Professor Michael Wolf, Director of Health Literacy and Learning Program at Northwestern University in Chicago, is a keynote speaker at an International Health Literacy Network conference at the University of Sydney today.
Below is a brief preview of his presentation:
“Health literacy has become a globally embraced concept that has been accepted and promoted by an unprecedented number of medical, pharmacy, nursing, and allied health societies and organizations – including the World Health Organization.
The body of research has advanced tremendously fast, although at a stall now as we still are awaiting more promising results that can be clearly pointed to as having been a ‘health literacy’ success.
One of the problems stems from definitions.
On one hand, the field has generated more than 700 studies that have uncovered a new individual risk factor that great impacts personal health, healthcare costs and mortality risk.
Yet as a public health objective, we also refer to this same term as something we can promote – a goal for clear health communication and making our health systems more user friendly.
I propose a straightforward remedy for the field to recognise the need for two things – a screening agenda to identify those among us who will be more likely to continually struggle to properly engage in self-care tasks so we may allocate more resources to bridge the divide, but also a call to action for healthcare providers and health systems to truly embrace health literacy as a quality agenda.
This means that we need to place a critical eye on how we communicate and follow-up with those who use our healthcare services, and strive to make the process plain and simple.”