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Health Literacy Tips for Patients

Thursday, Oct 08, 2015
Health Literacy

Reading and understanding health information is not an easy task. Doylestown Health makes every effort to help those that we serve improve their health by providing easy to understand health education materials.

Do you ever feel stressed after leaving the doctor's office?

Are you confused about the instructions you've been given?

Health literacy is a serious problem for many who struggle with reading and understanding health information. This results in more mistakes taking medicines correctly, missed doctor appointments, and avoidable visits to the emergency room. Health literacy is a shared responsibility between patients and providers.

What is Health Literacy Month?

Communication is the foundation of health literacy. Information shared between health care providers and patients needs to be communicated in a way that each can understand.

There are many factors that play a role in how people receive and process health care information, including:

  • Age
  • Literacy skills
  • Language
  • Culture
  • Health knowledge
  • Past experience
  • Complex information

How are health care providers making health care information easier to grasp?

There are many ways a provider can offer health care information to a patient to ensure understanding, depending on which type of learner you are.

  • Visual learners — Learn best by looking at pictures, videos or being shown how to do something. The information they are explaining to you can sound confusing. Visuals can help you understand your symptoms, diagnosis or prescription instructions better.
  • Auditory learners — Learn best by hearing information, discussion, and stories that repeat information.
  • Kinesthetic learners — Learn best by "doing", hands on, activity.

Information that is presented in all three ways provides the learner with the most opportunity and the greatest retention.

How do I know if I'm asking my health care provider the right questions?

Before your visit, make a list of all the medicines that you take. Write down your questions and discuss all of your concerns.

Here are 3 useful tips when visiting your doctor:

  • Take notes! Bring a notepad. Jot down prescription instructions, helpful tips and other important information. It is a good idea to have a friend or family member with you to help you remember.
  • Be honest. Let your health care provider know if he/she is not being clear enough for you. Don't be afraid to ask for something to be explained again. Written materials should be in plain language that is easy to read and understand.
  • Get contact information. Make sure you know who to call when you have any questions or concerns while you're at home. Your health care providers want to make sure your questions get answered and that you know what you need to do.

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