Health Literacy - Essay Example

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Health literacy refers to the extent to which the individuals can obtain, comprehend and process the basic health information and services to make an appropriate health decision ( HYPERLINK "" \l "x24748307-20170503-01-bibr23" Ratzan & Parker, 2000). The limited health literacy which is linked with numerous adverse health effects (Berkman, Sheridan, Donahue, Halpern, & Crotty, 2011), is considered to be educationally sensitive matter since it tends to improve the healthcare professionals ability to understand and address the patients health literacy skills. It is through communication process which the health professionals can meet and improve the outcomes of the patients (Yin, Jay, Maness, Zabar, & Kalet, 2015).The health communication process can be defined as the oral or written communication which aids the patients to grasp and act on the health care statistics (Pfizer Inc., 2013).On the other hand, the health literacy practices are also referred to as the patient-centered strategies and protocols which are used to abate the negative consequences as a result of a low health literacy (Barrett, Puryear, & Westpheling, 2008).In relation to the research carried by different researchers, there are various strategies which have been recommended to help in reducing the high level of health literacy (Coleman, Hudson, & Maine, 2013). However, the implementation of these strategies has been inconsistent(Schwartzberg, Cowett, Van Geest, & Wolf, 2007; Howard, Jacobson, & Kripalani, 2013). Besides, the health professionals such as physician assistant students, medical students, and resident physicians have reported having been unwilling and prepared to aid individuals with a low level of health literacy (Ali, Ferguson, Mitha, & Hanlon, 2014).

Health literacy is equally significant for both patients and clinicians. Therefore, to link the breach which exists between the healthcare information provision and implementation, there is a need for the health professionals who can speak the language of the patients as well as understand their cultures. The concepts of the low health literacy are quite vital since the links which exist between the poor health outcomes and the low health literacy is well acknowledged (Nutbeam, 2009).The functional low health literacy has a close relationship with the poor health status. For instance, a poor understanding of the medical information, medical conditions, preventive health care services and incline in the healthcare costs contribute immensely for the poor health services (Icles, Cottiell 2010: Thai, George, 2010: Cho, Lee, Arozullah, Crittenden 2008: Baker, Gazmararian, Scott, Parker, Green, Ren, & Peel, 2002). It also leads to the incline in the health inequality and social gradient (Berkman, Sheridan, Donahue, Halpern & Crotty, 2011: Protheroe, Whittle, Bartlam, Estacio, Kurth, 2017). Individuals who have low-level health literacy and engage in the unhealthy health practices comprise of the people who are poorer, less educated, ethically adverse and elderly. The health literacy has a lot of effect on individuals, organizations and healthcare providers. It also influences their responsiveness to acquire the healthcare services (Batterham, Buchbinder, Beauchamp, Dodson, Elsworth, Osborne, 2014: Capecchi, Lorini, Baldasseroni, Porchia, B.R. Bonaccorsi, 2015).

Without taking into consideration the level of education and the backgrounds of individuals, numerous people do not find it easy to navigate the healthcare system and comprehend the information given to them by the healthcare providers and other health organizations (Davis, Wolf, 2004).The inability to understand the healthcare information proves it very difficult to manage and respond to their healthcare needs.These problems are mainly worsen when the healthcare providers (Schwartzberg, Cowett, VanGeest, Wolf,2007: Coleman, 2011: Bass, P.; Wilson, J.F.; Griffith, C.H.; Barnett 2002) which comprise of nursing students (Cormier, Kotrlik, 2009),medical trainees (Ali, Ferguson, Mitha & Hanlon, 2014) and lack of knowledge and skills which can be used to address the low health literacy and the needs of the patients (Coleman, Hudson, Maine, 2013).There is a suggestion that due to lack of training to the nursing and medical students about the health literacy concept is what has led the incline in the gap between knowledge, skills and health literacy(Ali, Ferguson, Mitha, &Hanlon, 2024: Ali, 2013).It has also led to the incline in the inability to render a high-quality patient-focused care due to a poor communication process(Colman, 2011: Paasche-Orlow, Schillinger, Greene, & Wagner, 2006).Therefore, health literacy has become common in the curriculum of the health professionals (Coleman, 2011: Hadden, 2015) since it will help to improve a better understanding of the health literacy and the doctor-patient interaction or communication thus a better health outcome (Paasche-Orlow, Schillinger, Greene, & Wagner, 2006).

Even though the agreement has been made prior about the health literacy practices for the health professionals in Europe ( HYPERLINK "" \l "x24748307-20170503-01-bibr16" Karuranga et al., 2106) and the United States (Coleman et al., 2013) as well as on the field of nursing(Toronto, 2016), the clinicians, administrators, health professional educators and the policymakers have lack the guidance in regards to the health practices and the allocation of resources. These comprise of their expertise, money and time.

In the study done by National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, a recommendation have been given that the professional schools and programs in health-related fields such as pharmacy, dentistry, medicine, social work, nursing, social work, anthropology, journalism and public health should take into consideration health literacy and different areas of health competence in their curricula (Nielsen-Bohlman, Panzer, & Kindig, 2004).It has also been proved that improving the health literacy training practices to the health professionals help them to become more patient-centered and improve their living conditions. Besides, it helps to make it a component of the National action plan to improve the health literacy in US (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2010). Even though various strategies have been used to improve health literacy training, curricula and clear communication process (Coleman, 2011), then numerous health professionals still do not receive formal training in the health literacy segments. For instance, in United States, teaching about health literacy have been recorded to be 72% among the allopathic medical schools(Coleman & Appy, 2012), 42% of the family medicine residencies (Coleman, Nguyen, Garvin, Sou, & Carney, 2016a), 63% of baccalaureate undergraduate nursing programs (Scott, 2016), and 43% of community-based internal medicine residencies (Ali, 2012).

In accordance with Institute of Medicine, they call for the practice intervention to reduce well-documented disparities which results from the cultural miscommunication and the health literacy gaps. There is also need for the development of the effective training to prepare the health professionals and address the health problem issues (IOM, 2001).


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