What you don’t know can hurt you

Jason Socrates Bardi
eurekalert.org

UCSF/SFGH report issued by Institute of Medicine addresses widespread gaps in health literacy and shows how to bridge them.

Is it possible for a health care system to redesign its services to better educate patients to deal with their immediate health issues and also become more savvy consumers of medicine in the long run?

The answer is yes, according to a study led by scientists at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) and San Francisco General Hospital and Trauma Center (SFGH) that was recently reported by the Institute of Medicine (IOM).

The team’s paper describes ten attributes that health care organizations should utilize to make it easier for people to better navigate health information, make sense of services and better manage their own health — assistance for which there is a profound societal need.

Some 77 millions people in the United States have difficulty understanding even very basic health information, which clouds their ability to follow doctors’ recommendations, and millions more simply lack the skills necessary to make clear, informed decisions about their own health care, said senior author Dean Schillinger, MD, a UCSF professor of medicine, chief of the Division of General Internal Medicine at SFGH, and director of the Health Communications Program the UCSF Center for Vulnerable Populations at SFGH.

“Depending on how you define it, nearly half the U.S. population has poor health literacy skills,” he said.

Read More: What you don’t know can hurt you

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