Thursday, May 5, 2011

Presentation Cites Ways to Counteract Low Health Literacy | National Nursing News

Although low health literacy is a significant barrier to quality care, especially among elderly patients, a recent presentation noted how increased use of simple health literacy assessment tests by nurses and clinicians can help improve communication and health outcomes.

Several screening tools are available to assess health literacy but are underutilized, according to a presentation at the 36th Annual Congress of the Oncology Nursing Society by Ellen C. Mullen, RN, ANP-BC, GNP-BC, nurse practitioner in the Lymphoma and Myeloma Center at The University of MD Anderson Cancer Center.

Furthermore, nurses and other health professionals routinely underestimate the prevalence of limited health literacy — the degree to which an individual can obtain, process and understand health information needed to make appropriate health decisions — and overestimate patients’ ability to understand medical information.

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