By Sherine El-Toukhy, Ph.D., M.A.
Earl Stadtman Tenure-Track Investigator & NIH Distinguished Scholar
Division of Intramural Research, National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities
A basic principle of effective communication is to know the audience.1 This principle is especially important for patient-provider interactions that involve risk and diagnostic information, preventive measures, and instructions on medication regimens. But a message said is not necessarily a message understood. A patient’s understanding requires an ability to deal with written and spoken word and a grasp of basic math skills and concepts.2 It requires a health literate patient.
As a researcher in the Division of Intramural Research at the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD), I have been intrigued by how people of all races and ethnicities consume and understand health information and how this affects their health decision making and behaviors. Recently, I published a review of factors that affect the quality of patient-provider interactions among underserved populations.3 My co-author and I found that health literacy was prominent among other patient and clinician related factors. Continue reading “Health Literacy: Why It Matters for Minority Health and Health Disparities”