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SEA Currents

Newsletter of the NN/LM Southeastern/Atlantic Region

Beyond the SEA: Health Literacy Basics for Health Sciences Librarians - December 14, 2011

Health Literacy Basics for Health Sciences Librarians

Presenter:  Paula G. Raimondo, MLS, AHIP

Paula Raimondo is the Head of the Liaison and Outreach Services department at the University of Maryland Health Sciences & Human Services Library, in Baltimore, Maryland.  She became interested in the ramifications of low health literacy when she began her service as a member of the campus’ Institutional Review Board (IRB).  As a nonscientist on the IRB, one of her primary responsibilities is to review the informed consent documents that are part of research protocols.  She was concerned that the majority of the potential research participants who would be reading the consent documents would not be able to understand the medical terminology, and therefore not be fully able to understand their role in the protocol.

As a result, Paula developed a workshop, initially called “Health Literacy and Informed Consent”, later changed to “Communicating with Patients”, that she offers on a regular basis to faculty, staff and students on campus.  She uses the data she presents in class to raise awareness about the difficulties many patients have in understanding and acting on health information.  She is especially keen to persuade healthcare providers to develop clear language communication skills, so that they can share information with all patients, regardless of their literacy level.

Since Paula began teaching the class, around 2005, a lot of research has been done linking low health literacy levels to low health status and disparities in healthcare.  We also have more tools at our disposal to aid with health information communication.  She believes it is important that healthcare providers understand how to communicate with their patients, and that patients be empowered to talk to their healthcare providers. 

This Beyond the SEA session will review health literacy facts, consider effects of low literacy on patient behavior, discuss guidelines for clear health communication, and introduce some literacy evaluation tools.

Time: Noon – 1:00 pm ET

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Last updated on Tuesday, Nov 8, 2016

Funded under cooperative agreement number UG4LM012340 with the University of Maryland, Health Sciences and Human Services Library, and awarded by the DHHS, NIH, National Library of Medicine.