Healthcare information and literacy

Here are the findings of 2,659 outpatients surveyed a two hospitals 26% did not understand when their next appointment was scheduled and 42% did not understand to take their medicine on an empty stomach. Approximately 21% of Americans are classified as marginally and functionally illiterate. It is posited that more than 50% are unable to read and understand health related handouts. WHY?

Some interesting information about the written word

  • Health education material is written at the 8th-9th grade level
  • Hospital consent forms are written at the college level

Creating user friendly readable pamphlets

  • Assess your current demographics
  • Use tools such to assess literacy such as: REALM (Rapid Estimation of Adult Literacy in Medicine)
  • Key elements ~ lots of white paper, simple illustrations, 1-2 syllable words

Translating into another language

  • Include 2-3 native speakers to assist with the development
  • Back translate in English
  • Does it still make sense to everyone?
  • Include cultural symbols & language

Taking into consideration literacy, age, gender & culture ensures that the message is meaningful

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