Continued from page 1
Have you ever read instructions for testing and assessing blood sugar levels? Have you ever tried to fill out a Medicare form? Do you struggle with letters from your health insurance provider?
Only 45% of asthmatics with literacy problems knew that they should stay away from things they are allergic to even if they WERE taking asthma medication. 89% of people reading at high school level were clear about same information. It's not a matter of intelligence. It's a matter of a missing skill which well-educated health providers presume is present in their readers when they sit down to write.
There are two parts to problem: writer and reader. Recently, public health community has begun efforts to raise awareness. They are alerting medical providers to impact of health literacy issues. Some fledgling efforts are underway to provide clearer, simpler materials for public. People are finding alternatives to reading for presenting same information.
There is a long way to go. Sign up now with your local literacy program as a volunteer.
Drop in on your elderly neighbor and help her learn to read specialized health material so critical in her life. (You may want to ask her about her life first, to save embarrassment when you learn you're talking to a retired English teacher). Start with all those ridiculously obscure materials her doctor sent home with her about glaucoma. You can go on to that Medicare form she needs to send in tomorrow.
Do you want to know what eighth grade reading level is? You just read 700 words of it. 74 million Americans reading at below fourth grade level could have found it too hard for them to understand.
The information contained in this article is for educational purposes only and is not intended to medically diagnose, treat or cure any disease. Consult a health care practitioner before beginning any health care program.
Emily Clark is editor at Lifestyle Health News and Medical Health News where you can find the most up-to-date advice and information on many medical, health and lifestyle topics.