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STRATEGIES YOU COULD EMPLOY TO IMPROVE THE HEALTH LITERACY OF PATIENTS

In order to effectively manage their own health, individuals need to have competencies in two areas—basic literacy and basic health literacy. What is the difference? Basic literacy refers to the ability to read, even simple language. Health literacy is defined as, “the degree to which individuals have the capacity to obtain, process, and understand basic health information and services needed to make appropriate health decisions” (National Coalition for Literacy, 2009). Unfortunately, according to a Department of Education report on health literacy, only 12% of adults aged 16 and older are considered to have a proficient level of health literacy (U.S. Department of Education, 2006). Acquiring health literacy skills has become more complicated with the explosion of online health information, some credible and some misleading.

In this Discussion, you focus on how to help individuals find credible information on the Internet and develop strategies nurses can use to increase the health literacy of their patients.

To prepare:

  • Think about the nurse’s role in improving the health literacy of patients.
  • Consider the many ways patients access health information, including blogs, social media, patient portals, websites, etc.
  • Reflect on experiences you have had with patients who self-diagnose using online medical sources.
  • Using the Internet, the Walden Library, or other trustworthy sources, identify a resource that you could introduce to patients to help them evaluate the credibility of health information found online.
  • What are some strategies you could employ to improve the health literacy of patients?

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