Health literacy affects everyone. Imagine you are trying to order food in a foreign country and you don’t speak the language. Just like learning a foreign language, understanding health information is a challenge -- one that everyone will face at least once in his or her lifetime. Health literacy, as defined by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) is “the degree to which individuals can obtain, process, and understand the basic health information and services needed to make appropriate health decisions.” According to the most recent National Assessment of Adult Literacy report, only 12% of adults in the U.S. are proficient in reading, understanding and acting upon medical information, and even these individuals struggle to understand complex health information at times. This critical gap has significant medical consequences for society.
This article explores evidence that shared decision making can help reduce health disparities by improving patient activation and health outcomes, even for patients with lower health literacy. The authors suggest this is imperative since previous research shows that despite lower knowledge scores, patients with less education and income felt extremely well informed with respect to medication and screening decisions.
Patient-focused interventions are those that recognise the role of patients as active participants in the process of securing appropriate, effective, safe and responsive healthcare. There is a growing belief among policy-makers that patients/citizens can contribute to quality improvement at both an individual and a collective level.
This study will advance the evidence base regarding best methods for facilitating informed decisions among patients with knee and hip osteoarthritis (OA) by comparing DVD and Crossroads online formats of decision aids (DAs) for these conditions.
We propose two complementary investigations to address the effectiveness of optimally designed multimedia and print materials in different contexts. The first addresses knowledge dissemination for preventive services and disease self-management. The second explores best practices for conveying information about risks and benefits of treatment.