Thursday, October 12, 2017

The Importance of Learning About Your Health

Can you answer these three questions from the Brief Health Literacy Screen (BHLS): 
  1. How confident are you in filling out medical forms on your own?; 
  2. How often do you have someone help you read hospital materials?;
  3. How often do you have problems learning about your medical condition because of difficulty understanding written information?
They appear simple. Many people I think would say Very, Never, and Never. But then if you add in the complication of not knowing English very well, a lower level of education, or just being sick and not clear headed at the time, those could change easily to: Not at all, Often, and Frequently.

What is the result of this kind of problem? Longer hospital stays for one:

"Using the BHLS screen, 20% (1104/5540) had inadequate health literacy. Patients with low health literacy had an 11% longer average length of stay (6.0 vs 5.4 days). Among men, low health literacy was associated with a 17.8% longer length of stay, and among women, low health literacy was associated with a 7.7% longer length of stay."

Longer hospital stays result in more exposure to germs, bigger bills, less rest for the patient (who ever gets a good night's sleep in a hospital) which ends up with more patient stress.

A recent study showed all this and more. Read it here.

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