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Challenges and strategies to improve patient health literacy and competencies

Authors Bosworth H

Published 12 August 2010 Volume 2010:2 Pages 19—25


Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 2

Hayden B Bosworth

Center for Health Services Research in Primary Care, Durham VAMC, Department of Medicine, Division of General Internal Medicine, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, School of Nursing, Duke University, Durham, NC, USA

Abstract: Health literacy continues to be a significant public health problem with more than a third of Americans having difficulties understanding basic health information. While a number of factors are associated with health literacy, in light of soaring health care costs, further examination of ways to identify and reduce the impact of poor health literacy are essential. To this end, this review of health literacy includes details on numeracy, summarizes why health literacy is crucial in the health care setting, the impact of poor health literacy, and the correlates of poor health literacy. In addition, ways to identify poor health literacy are discussed and summarized and successful methods in reducing the impact of health literacy are provided. Given that successful management of many acute or chronic health conditions is influenced by patients’ understanding of relevant health information, providing additional support to individuals who have difficulty understanding this information can positively influence health outcomes.

Keywords: low literacy, numeracy, behavioral intervention, chronic disease, patient-physician communication

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