The Department of Public Health should seek avenues of training and implementing health literacy in all Healthcare facilities, Pharmacies, and Health Centers, possible look at the one organization (western MA) that is actively doing health literacy in MA and develop on it. The MA Community Health Workers and other such home care organizations also should make efforts to incorporate health literacy training into their fields.
Medically underserved patients may have particular difficulty communicating with their health care providers and pharmacists. For many reason we must focus on health literacy; Health literacy is the degree to which individuals have the capacity to obtain, process, and understand basic health information and services needed to make appropriate health decisions. [Source: Healthy People 2010] According to the Institute of Medicine, ninety million adult Americans have limited health literacy. Health literacy is a complex phenomenon that involves individuals, families, communities and systems. The concept of health literacy extends to the materials, environments, and challenges specifically associated with disease prevention and health promotion. Health literacy incorporates a range of abilities: reading, comprehending, and analyzing information; decoding instructions, symbols, charts, and diagrams; weighing risks and benefits; and, ultimately, making decisions and taking action.
Plain language is a strategy for making written and oral information easier to understand. It is one important tool for improving health literacy. Key elements of Plain Language include:
Organizing information so that the most important points come first;
Breaking complex information into understandable chunks;
Using simple language and defining technical terms; and
Using the active voice.
Cultural Competency is a strategy that enables organizations to work effectively in cross-cultural situations. Developing and implementing a framework of cultural competence in health systems is an extended process that ultimately serves to reduce health disparities and improve access to high-quality health care. Cultural competence benefits consumers, stakeholders, and communities. Because a number of elements can influence health communication—including behaviors, language, customs, beliefs, and perspectives—cultural competence is also critical for achieving accuracy in medical research. NIH funds and works with researchers nationwide for the development and dissemination of resources designed to enhance cultural competence in health care systems.
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