Literacy Skills Are Strongest Predictor of Health Status in United States

New Coalition Unveils Action Agenda, Tools to Elevate 'Health Literacy'

Among At-Risk Populations



May 06, 2003, 01:00 ET from Partnership for Clear Health Communication

    WASHINGTON, May 6 /PRNewswire/ -- Literacy skills are a stronger
 predictor of an individual's health status than age, income, employment
 status, education level, or racial/ethnic group, according to the
 Partnership for Clear Health Communication.  The group, a new coalition of
 19 of the nation's top health and civic organizations, today unveiled an
 aggressive action agenda that addresses the growing public health problem of
 low "health literacy," or the ability to read, understand and act on health
 information.
     An increasing body of evidence indicates that low health literacy may be
 an underlying factor in high use of some health care services as well as
 influencing health outcomes.  This pervasive but, until now, relatively
 hidden issue is estimated to cost the U.S. health care system up to
 $73 billion annually and puts 90 million people -- nearly 1-in-3 -- at risk
 for poor health outcomes.
     The difficulty may be due to poor reading comprehension skills, the
 complexity of medical information, or the format in which it is delivered.
 Certain groups are more vulnerable due to age, language skills, cultural
 factors or reading skills; however, anyone can have difficulty understanding
 health care information.  Studies have shown that even people who are
 college educated and can understand complicated words prefer to have medical
 information stated simply.
     "Medical terms often come across to patients as if the doctor is
 speaking another language," said Dr. David Baker, a member of the
 Partnership and Chief of General Internal Medicine at the Feinberg School of
 Medicine, Northwestern University.  "Health information needs to be
 communicated to patients in plain language and in a way that is appropriate
 to patients' individual background and culture.  The Partnership for Clear
 Health Communication was formed to leverage the collective resources and
 expertise of its members to improve communication between patients and
 health care providers."
 
     The Partnership for Clear Health Communication Action Agenda
     The Partnership for Clear Health Communication will promote awareness of
 and solutions to low health literacy and its effect on health outcomes while
 furthering the cause of increased, meaningful communication between patients
 and providers by:
 
      1. Educating patients and providers
      2. Developing and applying practical solutions to improve
         patient-provider communication
      3. Conducting nationally coordinated research to further define the
         health literacy issue and evaluate solutions.
      4. Increasing support for health literacy policy and funding
 
     The Partnership and its members are committed to offering free and
 low-cost resources and programs that deliver information, medical education
 and practice management tools to health care providers and groups that
 provide information to patients.
     "Effective communication tools are particularly critical when people of
 different cultures, ethnic and racial backgrounds need to exchange
 information in a way that all parties can understand and respond," said Dr.
 Sharon Allison-Ottey, a physician and Chair of the Health Literacy Task
 Force of the National Medical Association, a member of the Partnership.
 "The first step in this solution is to help patients and providers
 communicate in a clear manner.  One tool that can help this process is Ask
 Me 3."
     Ask Me 3 is a tool developed by the Partnership to help improve health
 communication between patients and providers.  Through patient and provider
 education materials developed by leading health literacy experts (available
 online at www.AskMe3.org), Ask Me 3 promotes three simple but essential
 questions patients can ask their providers in every health care interaction:
 
      1. What is my main problem?
      2. What do I need to do?
      3. Why is it important for me to do this?
 
     "There are many solutions to the low health literacy problem that cost
 little or nothing, are easy to implement, and don't take much time," said
 Janet Ohene-Frempong, MS, health literacy expert and a member of the
 Partnership.  "Most can help to effectively organize and focus
 patient-provider interactions in a way that can ultimately save time for the
 provider, improve health outcomes, and even save lives."
     Better understanding of low health literacy is an essential step in
 improving patient/provider communication.  Therefore, additional educational
 and resource materials such as examples of simple interventions, literacy
 resources, and a bibliography of research studies are also available at
 www.AskMe3.org.
 
     About the Partnership for Clear Health Communication
     The Partnership for Clear Health Communication is a coalition of
 national organizations that are working together to promote awareness and
 solutions around the issue of low health literacy and its effect on health
 outcomes.  The Partnership serves consumers, public health officials, health
 care professionals, health educators, literacy specialists, patient
 advocates and caregivers, health associations and policy makers.
     The Partnership and its members are committed to offering resources and
 programs that deliver information, medical education and practice management
 tools to providers of care and information to patients.
     Partnership for Clear Health Communication Steering Committee members
 include:
 
      American Federation for Aging Research
      American Medical Association Foundation
      American Nurses Association
      American Pharmacists Association
      American Public Health Association
      David Baker, MD
      California Literacy, Inc.
      National Alliance for Caregiving
      National Alliance for Hispanic Health
      National Association of Community Health Centers
      National Coalition for Literacy
      National Council of La Raza, Institute for Hispanic Health
      The National Council on the Aging
      National Health Council
      National Medical Association
      Janet Ohene-Frempong, MS
      Partnership for Prevention
      Pfizer Inc
      ProLiteracy Worldwide
 
  For more information on the Partnership for Clear Health Communication or
            Ask Me 3, please visit our Web site:  www.AskMe3.org.
 
 

SOURCE Partnership for Clear Health Communication
    WASHINGTON, May 6 /PRNewswire/ -- Literacy skills are a stronger
 predictor of an individual's health status than age, income, employment
 status, education level, or racial/ethnic group, according to the
 Partnership for Clear Health Communication.  The group, a new coalition of
 19 of the nation's top health and civic organizations, today unveiled an
 aggressive action agenda that addresses the growing public health problem of
 low "health literacy," or the ability to read, understand and act on health
 information.
     An increasing body of evidence indicates that low health literacy may be
 an underlying factor in high use of some health care services as well as
 influencing health outcomes.  This pervasive but, until now, relatively
 hidden issue is estimated to cost the U.S. health care system up to
 $73 billion annually and puts 90 million people -- nearly 1-in-3 -- at risk
 for poor health outcomes.
     The difficulty may be due to poor reading comprehension skills, the
 complexity of medical information, or the format in which it is delivered.
 Certain groups are more vulnerable due to age, language skills, cultural
 factors or reading skills; however, anyone can have difficulty understanding
 health care information.  Studies have shown that even people who are
 college educated and can understand complicated words prefer to have medical
 information stated simply.
     "Medical terms often come across to patients as if the doctor is
 speaking another language," said Dr. David Baker, a member of the
 Partnership and Chief of General Internal Medicine at the Feinberg School of
 Medicine, Northwestern University.  "Health information needs to be
 communicated to patients in plain language and in a way that is appropriate
 to patients' individual background and culture.  The Partnership for Clear
 Health Communication was formed to leverage the collective resources and
 expertise of its members to improve communication between patients and
 health care providers."
 
     The Partnership for Clear Health Communication Action Agenda
     The Partnership for Clear Health Communication will promote awareness of
 and solutions to low health literacy and its effect on health outcomes while
 furthering the cause of increased, meaningful communication between patients
 and providers by:
 
      1. Educating patients and providers
      2. Developing and applying practical solutions to improve
         patient-provider communication
      3. Conducting nationally coordinated research to further define the
         health literacy issue and evaluate solutions.
      4. Increasing support for health literacy policy and funding
 
     The Partnership and its members are committed to offering free and
 low-cost resources and programs that deliver information, medical education
 and practice management tools to health care providers and groups that
 provide information to patients.
     "Effective communication tools are particularly critical when people of
 different cultures, ethnic and racial backgrounds need to exchange
 information in a way that all parties can understand and respond," said Dr.
 Sharon Allison-Ottey, a physician and Chair of the Health Literacy Task
 Force of the National Medical Association, a member of the Partnership.
 "The first step in this solution is to help patients and providers
 communicate in a clear manner.  One tool that can help this process is Ask
 Me 3."
     Ask Me 3 is a tool developed by the Partnership to help improve health
 communication between patients and providers.  Through patient and provider
 education materials developed by leading health literacy experts (available
 online at www.AskMe3.org), Ask Me 3 promotes three simple but essential
 questions patients can ask their providers in every health care interaction:
 
      1. What is my main problem?
      2. What do I need to do?
      3. Why is it important for me to do this?
 
     "There are many solutions to the low health literacy problem that cost
 little or nothing, are easy to implement, and don't take much time," said
 Janet Ohene-Frempong, MS, health literacy expert and a member of the
 Partnership.  "Most can help to effectively organize and focus
 patient-provider interactions in a way that can ultimately save time for the
 provider, improve health outcomes, and even save lives."
     Better understanding of low health literacy is an essential step in
 improving patient/provider communication.  Therefore, additional educational
 and resource materials such as examples of simple interventions, literacy
 resources, and a bibliography of research studies are also available at
 www.AskMe3.org.
 
     About the Partnership for Clear Health Communication
     The Partnership for Clear Health Communication is a coalition of
 national organizations that are working together to promote awareness and
 solutions around the issue of low health literacy and its effect on health
 outcomes.  The Partnership serves consumers, public health officials, health
 care professionals, health educators, literacy specialists, patient
 advocates and caregivers, health associations and policy makers.
     The Partnership and its members are committed to offering resources and
 programs that deliver information, medical education and practice management
 tools to providers of care and information to patients.
     Partnership for Clear Health Communication Steering Committee members
 include:
 
      American Federation for Aging Research
      American Medical Association Foundation
      American Nurses Association
      American Pharmacists Association
      American Public Health Association
      David Baker, MD
      California Literacy, Inc.
      National Alliance for Caregiving
      National Alliance for Hispanic Health
      National Association of Community Health Centers
      National Coalition for Literacy
      National Council of La Raza, Institute for Hispanic Health
      The National Council on the Aging
      National Health Council
      National Medical Association
      Janet Ohene-Frempong, MS
      Partnership for Prevention
      Pfizer Inc
      ProLiteracy Worldwide
 
  For more information on the Partnership for Clear Health Communication or
            Ask Me 3, please visit our Web site:  www.AskMe3.org.
 
 SOURCE  Partnership for Clear Health Communication