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Here’s What Happens When People Don’t Understand Their Doctor

Stashed in: #health, Awesome, Medicine, Healthcare, Healthcare

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Modern medicine has pushed out much of its lifesaving complexity to the edges -- each individual user -- which is a radically bad antipattern. It's especially bad in a country like ours without strong central government control and with a wide diversity of backgrounds and living situations. CHAOS!

"Because there’s no way to tell a person’s health literacy level, Lebret says doctors in particular should make an effort to universally practice this this communication style in routine patient care, even though that is increasingly difficult in the smaller windows of time in which doctors are able to communicate with patients. "

We have to do a better job with this. 

It's hard to get good health information. 

There's no great place to improve our health literacy, is there?

Nothing comes to mind. 

An estimated 80 million people in the U.S. have limited health literacy, making it difficult to understand basic health information—such as following hospital discharge instructions—and services. Because health literacy also comprises numeracy, people with low health literacy may have a hard time understanding mathematical concepts related to health like probability or risk of disease.

A large body of research has linked limited health literacy to a spectrum of suboptimal health outcomes, including fewer preventive services, higher levels of hospital readmission, and worse overall health.

“If a patioent does not understand his or his diagnosis or the importance of prevention and treatment plans or is unable to access or navigate health care services, it is no surprise they are struggling with their health,” said James Lebret, MD, an assistant professor of medicine at New York University’s Langone Medical Center.

According to the National Assessment of Adult Literacy, more than a third of U.S. adults have difficulty with common health tasks, such as understanding what to drink or eat before a medical test or adhering to a childhood immunization schedule using a standard table. Limited health literacy disproportionately affects the elderly, the uninsured, those with lower levels of education, people from some racial minorities, and those for whom English is not their native tongue.

Only about 12 percent of U.S. adults have health literacy skills that would allow them to make more complex health-related decisions, such as finding the information required to define an unknown medical term. However, even among the proficient, health literacy can plummet in certain contexts. 

There is no good resource that I'm aware of. Patients rely on us to be better communicators and we should be. 

Well,mood communication comes from practice. So that will take time.

In the meantime I'm taking it upon myself to improve my health literacy.

Whenever I learn something new and relevant I will post it to PandaWhale. 

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