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Health Literacy and Health Professionals - 2008

Phase II - Health Literacy Research Project
This research project was phase II of a three-phase project.  Phase I looked at the needs of adult learners when accessing health information.  This phase looked at the needs of health professionals when communicating health information.  Phase III looked at the needs of seniors when accessing health information.
Phase I - Adult Learners
Phase III - Seniors
The goals of phase II were:
  • to define the needs of health professionals when communicating health information
  • to create a list of suggestions from health professionals on how to improve the communication of health information

We developed and distributed a survey for health professionals. We handed out this survey at a health professionals’ workshop, mailed it to all the community health centres, hand delivered it to pharmacies, and e-mailed it to our health contacts. We contacted a wide variety of health professionals including: pharmacists, doctors, dieticians, speech language pathologists, medical secretaries, and nurses.

In our Phase I research adult learners named pharmacists and doctors as their first sources for health information. For this reason, our analysis of the findings focuses on responses from pharmacists and doctors.

Summary of Findings:

  • More than half of all respondents and 90% of doctors underestimated the number of Islanders who have low health literacy.
  • 25% of respondents had received training to communicate with patients with low literacy.  Only 10% of doctors received this kind of training, compared to 44% of pharmacists.
  • When we asked about challenges to good communication, lack of time was named the most often. More than half also named lack of resources or tools, and lack of knowledge in how to communicate with patients with low literacy.

Here are the full research findings Research Report - Phase II.

This project was funded by the Adult Learning Knowledge Centre and the PGI Golf Tournament for Literacy.
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My name is Terry Affleck and I learned to read at the age of 63 and today at 65 I am enrolled at Holland College to prepare for my GED. More...

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