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Health literacy

New toolkit addresses the challenges of health literacy

Health Education England (HEE) has launched a free toolkit in collaboration with Public Health England, NHS England and the Community Health and Learning Foundation to help health staff tackle the challenges caused by low levels of health literacy and improve health outcomes.

This is part of a larger project being carried out by the four organisations to develop, test and implement a range of strategic and practical interventions towards improving health literacy.

According to figures from the Royal College of General Practitioners, 60% of working-age adults are unable to effectively understand and use health information.

“People with lower levels of health literacy are less likely to be confident about talking to health professionals, less motivated to engage in decisions about their health and less willing to let clinicians know when they haven’t understood what they have been told,” explained Jonathan Berry, health literacy lead at NHS England.

Janet Flint, national programme lead for population health and prevention at HEE, said it was important that clinicians were not only able to identify when patients have lower levels of health literacy, but also have the tools to tailor how they provide information to them so that they can understand it.

“This toolkit shines a light on these tools, and we would encourage all levels of our healthcare staff to review and share with their colleagues,” she said.

The toolkit offers a suite of resources including a health literacy ‘how to’ guide; a health literacy awareness workshop lesson plan and accompanying slides that can be used to deliver half-day sessions to staff working in health and care settings; and case studies looking at the impact of outcomes of training. All of these elements have been designed so that they can be implemented into everyday practice.

The toolkit, which can be accessed on the HEE website, has been trialled in the East Midlands and has been used successfully to train more than 230 healthcare professionals in the region.

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2017.20204119

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