Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

What can health-care facilities do to help patients better understand medical information

16.09.2010
Studies show that nearly half of all Americans have difficulty understanding health information. Confusing medical directions, such as dosage and timing of prescription medicine, can lead to serious consequences including health setbacks, inappropriate hospital admissions and, sometimes, death. Now, researchers at the University of Missouri School of Health Professions are examining what health care facilities can do to increase patient understanding and positive outcomes.

Diane Smith, an assistant professor in MU's Department of Occupational Therapy and a collaborator with the University of Missouri's Center for Health Policy, and four occupational therapy graduate students conducted a pilot study focusing on the "health literacy environment" of two health care facilities. "Health literacy" is defined as a patient's ability to understand the health information provided to them by health professionals. The study focused on ease of navigation, including use of signage, facility maps and verbal & written communication.

"Our study is directed toward the provider making health information easier to understand for the client," said Smith, who is the interim chair of the occupational therapy department. "If patients can understand information better, they are going to be more compliant with medical direction. If they are more compliant, they are more likely to get better outcomes."

The study examined a rehabilitation facility and an independent senior-living facility. Although both facilities exhibited many strong points, both had areas in need of improvement. At the independent living facility, paperwork was written at a college-sophomore reading level. Previous studies have recommended that medical information be written at a fifth to eighth-grade reading level. Another common health literacy issue is clear oral communication between health care professionals and patients. At the rehabilitation facility, health care professionals rarely asked patients if they were "being clear." Problems with oral communication also extend to a lack of availability of multilingual employees who can translate for providers. Following the evaluation, the researchers gave suggestions to each facility.

Smith recommends several steps that the health care industry can take to increase patient understanding:

Health care professionals should use plain language, instead of professional jargon, as well as make sure a patient understands their directions.

Printed materials should be available in large, easy-to-read fonts and written at a fifth to eighth grade level.

Clear maps and consistent navigational signs should be posted throughout the interior, as well as on the exterior of the building.

Wheelchair accessibility also should be a consideration beyond mobility. For example, maps should be posted at wheelchair-level.

Smith is working to educate current and future health care professionals on the importance of patient understanding by speaking at professional conferences and advocating curriculum changes. This year, Smith has spoken and is scheduled to speak at professional conferences for rehabilitation professionals including occupational and speech therapists. MU's School of Health Professions also has added a health care literacy requirement to some of its degree programs.

"Health literacy is even more important as people are being discharged sooner from hospitals and are charged with their own care," Smith said. "I don't think miscommunication with patients is anything that anyone does on purpose. To facilitate better understanding, health literacy is something that should be more on the forefront of curriculum."

Smith is planning a future study focusing on more health care facilities in Missouri. The study was published in the journal Occupational Therapy in Health Care.

Christian Basi | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.missouri.edu

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht Innovative genetic tests for children with developmental disorders and epilepsy
11.07.2018 | Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel

nachricht Oxygen loss in the coastal Baltic Sea is “unprecedentedly severe”
05.07.2018 | European Geosciences Union

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: First evidence on the source of extragalactic particles

For the first time ever, scientists have determined the cosmic origin of highest-energy neutrinos. A research group led by IceCube scientist Elisa Resconi, spokesperson of the Collaborative Research Center SFB1258 at the Technical University of Munich (TUM), provides an important piece of evidence that the particles detected by the IceCube neutrino telescope at the South Pole originate from a galaxy four billion light-years away from Earth.

To rule out other origins with certainty, the team led by neutrino physicist Elisa Resconi from the Technical University of Munich and multi-wavelength...

Im Focus: Magnetic vortices: Two independent magnetic skyrmion phases discovered in a single material

For the first time a team of researchers have discovered two different phases of magnetic skyrmions in a single material. Physicists of the Technical Universities of Munich and Dresden and the University of Cologne can now better study and understand the properties of these magnetic structures, which are important for both basic research and applications.

Whirlpools are an everyday experience in a bath tub: When the water is drained a circular vortex is formed. Typically, such whirls are rather stable. Similar...

Im Focus: Breaking the bond: To take part or not?

Physicists working with Roland Wester at the University of Innsbruck have investigated if and how chemical reactions can be influenced by targeted vibrational excitation of the reactants. They were able to demonstrate that excitation with a laser beam does not affect the efficiency of a chemical exchange reaction and that the excited molecular group acts only as a spectator in the reaction.

A frequently used reaction in organic chemistry is nucleophilic substitution. It plays, for example, an important role in in the synthesis of new chemical...

Im Focus: New 2D Spectroscopy Methods

Optical spectroscopy allows investigating the energy structure and dynamic properties of complex quantum systems. Researchers from the University of Würzburg present two new approaches of coherent two-dimensional spectroscopy.

"Put an excitation into the system and observe how it evolves." According to physicist Professor Tobias Brixner, this is the credo of optical spectroscopy....

Im Focus: Chemical reactions in the light of ultrashort X-ray pulses from free-electron lasers

Ultra-short, high-intensity X-ray flashes open the door to the foundations of chemical reactions. Free-electron lasers generate these kinds of pulses, but there is a catch: the pulses vary in duration and energy. An international research team has now presented a solution: Using a ring of 16 detectors and a circularly polarized laser beam, they can determine both factors with attosecond accuracy.

Free-electron lasers (FELs) generate extremely short and intense X-ray flashes. Researchers can use these flashes to resolve structures with diameters on the...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Leading experts in Diabetes, Metabolism and Biomedical Engineering discuss Precision Medicine

13.07.2018 | Event News

Conference on Laser Polishing – LaP: Fine Tuning for Surfaces

12.07.2018 | Event News

11th European Wood-based Panel Symposium 2018: Meeting point for the wood-based materials industry

03.07.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Machine-learning predicted a superhard and high-energy-density tungsten nitride

18.07.2018 | Materials Sciences

NYSCF researchers develop novel bioengineering technique for personalized bone grafts

18.07.2018 | Life Sciences

Why might reading make myopic?

18.07.2018 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>