Wednesday, May 11, 2011

How podcasts can help patients with health literacy, KevinMD.com

by Robert Rodvien, MD

When a person is told that they have a serious illness, they are similar to Alice falling down the rabbit hole.

They enter a bewildering new world of discussions, tests and treatment programs that must be navigated while maintaining a job, life obligations, and relationships with friends and family. Just when a person needs more resilience to stress, anxiety can occur. The ability to function is often diminished in such a state, and, like Alice, many begin to grope for solutions. Patients, family members and friends begin to rely on anecdotes. Others find hope-based messages more acceptable than evidence-based ones. Some patients are willing to do anything that appears constructive even if there is no evidence of success.

Some patients seek to become experts in their field of illness and venture on-line to do so, but entering the world of medicine on-line often creates misguided but nonetheless strongly held beliefs. Much of the accessible material is jargon and advertising rather than unbiased information. Web sites and brochures are rife with marketing language to promote a hospital, company or pharmaceutical product, leaving many who seek information as wary consumers instead of informed patients.

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