Health Literacy: What It is, Why It Matters

Includes health literacy's history, policy, trends, and resources.

Vaccine Literacy (HLOL #189)

Scott Ratzan M.D., M.P.A., M.A., has three decades of pioneering accomplishments in the U.S. and globally in health literacy, health communication, and strategic diplomacy. He is the founding Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Health Communication: International Perspectives, and serves on the Board of Global Health for the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine. Beyond his many publications and ongoing advocacy, Dr. Ratzan is co-author of the definition of health literacy that was adopted by the US Government and incorporated in the Affordable Care Act. He now taking on the challenge to improve “vaccine literacy.”

In this podcast, Dr. Scott Ratzan talks with Helen Osborne about:

  • Vaccine literacy. How it is alike yet differs from health literacy. And why vaccine literacy is needed now.
  • Examples of how vaccine literacy requires a multi-level effort from policy makers and industry leaders, along with caring advocates.
  • Ways we all can help communicate clearly, accurately, and actionably about vaccines.

More Ways to Learn:

Health Literacy from A to Z: Practical Ways to Communicate Your Health Message, Second Edition (updated 2018), by Helen Osborne. Relevant chapters include 1 (“About Health Literacy”) and 13 (“General Public: Talking With Patients About What They Learn From the Media”).

Read a transcript of this podcast.

Health Literacy Listening Tour (HLOL#188)

Audrey Riffenburgh Ph.D. has over 20 years of experience in health literacy and plain language. Dr. Riffenburgh is President of Health Literacy Connections (formerly Plain Language Works). Her firm helps healthcare systems, health-related agencies, and companies use health literacy and plain language to improve audience communication and meet organizational goals.

Dr. Riffenburgh is widely recognized for her many health literacy accomplishments. This includes being the Senior Health Literacy Specialist at an academic health system where she led efforts to improve communication and access for patients and families and become a more “health literate organization.”

Dr. Riffenburgh often speaks at conferences and workshops, co-authored several publications, and has served on national panels and committees. She earned a Ph.D. in Health Communication, focusing on the implementation of health literacy initiatives in healthcare organizations.

In this podcast, Audrey Riffenburgh talks with Helen Osborne about:

  • Health Literacy Listening Tour. A quick, focused way to get the “lay of the land” within your organization so as to develop meaningful health literacy programs.
  • Practical tips that include meeting with key leaders, framing health literacy as an important issue, and learning about organizational goals, strategies, and needs.
  • Using this opportunity to build goodwill, raise awareness about your program, develop allies, create networks, and develop projects with measurable outcomes.

More Ways to Learn:

Health Literacy from A to Z: Practical Ways to Communicate Your Health Message, Second Edition (Updated 2018), by Helen Osborne. Relevant chapters include: 4, 27.

Read a transcript of this podcast. 

Archie Willard Talks About Struggling to Read (HLOL #187)

In this podcast first broadcast in 2008, Archie Willard shares a message that is as important today as it was then. I hope you enjoy and learn from this HLOL Classic.

Archie Willard was an ardent and articulate advocate for health literacy. He chaired health literacy workshops and participated in health literacy programs run by organizations including the Iowa Health System, American Medical Association, and the Joint Commission. Archie also was a guest speaker at health literacy conferences across the United States. But he didn’t learn to read until he was 54 years old, after being diagnosed with severe dyslexia. Of note: Archie Willard died in 2017 when he was in his mid-80s.

In this podcast, Archie Willard talks with Helen Osborne about:

  • Growing up as a non-reader
  • Learning to read as an adult
  • How reading problems affect health understanding
  • Ways we all can help

More Ways to Learn:

Health Literacy from A to Z: Practical Ways to Communicate Your Health Message, Second Edition (Updated 2018), by Helen Osborne. Relevant chapters include: 1, 21, 27, 28, 29, 41.

Read the transcript of this podcast.

The Family’s Voice in Practice, Research, and Foundations (HLOL #186)

Sharon Cray earned a degree in accountancy and worked in business for several years. She entered the world of healthcare as a parent, caregiver, and active volunteer when two of her three children were diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis (CF). Her participation now includes volunteering with the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation and serving on the Family Advisory Council at St. Christopher’s Hospital for Children in Philadelphia. Cray is an active member of the I-PASS Family Centered Rounds Study Team, co-authoring the research paper, “Patient safety after implementation of a coproduced family centered communication programme,” published in the British Medical Journal.

In this podcast, Sharon Cray talks with Helen Osborne about:

  • Family voice. A shared mental model that helps providers better understand the needs, wants, and lived experiences of patients and their families.
  • Ways the family voice makes a difference in practice, research, and foundations.
  • Recommendations for providers about finding and working with family partners.
  • Recommendations for families about getting involved, being listened to, and helping.

More Ways to Learn:

Health Literacy from A to Z: Practical Ways to Communicate Your Health Message, Second Edition (Updated 2018), by Helen Osborne. Relevant chapters include: 5, 6, 7, 8, 17, 24, 29, 31, 41

Read the transcript of this podcast.

 

Building Bridges of Health Literacy: Connecting Globally, Acting Locally, Learning Together (HLOL #183)

Kristine Sørensen is founding director of the Global Health Literacy Academy. Kristine Sørensen also is the first president of the International Health Literacy Association, chair of Health Literacy Europe, and advisor to the WHO on health literacy. She now lives in Denmark. 

In this podcast, Kristine Sørensen talks with Helen Osborne about:

  • Health literacy efforts in Europe, Asia, Australia, Africa, and the United States. How these efforts are alike and ways that they differ.
  • Why and how to keep doing this work even when faced with resistance. 
  • Health literacy associations, conferences, online discussions, and other ways to learn from and support each other.

More Ways to Learn:

Health Literacy from A to Z: Practical Ways to Communicate Your Health Message, Second Edition (Updated 2018), by Helen Osborne. Relevant chapters include: 1, 27, 42.

Read the transcript of this podcast. 

Communicating Clearly Takes More Than Simple Words (HLOL #181)

Lauren McCormack PhD, MPSH is Vice President of RTI International’s Public Health Research Division and Adjunct Associate Professor in the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health. McCormack’s research bridges the fields of health communication and health policy. It involves developing, testing, and evaluating interventions to promote patient-centered care, patient engagement, and informed decision-making.  An overarching goal is to improve the public’s understanding and use of medical evidence.

In this podcast, Helen Osborne talks with Dr. McCormack about:

  • Helping patients and the public make decisions based on information and evidence. 
  • Targeting, narratives, tailoring, framing, expressing uncertainty, and other communication strategies.
  • Tips for using these strategies in your health related materials. 

More Ways to Learn:

Health Literacy from A to Z: Practical Ways to Communicate Your Health Message, Second Edition (Updated 2018), by Helen Osborne. Relevant chapters include: 6, 8, 11, 16, 21, 28.

Read the transcript of this podcast. 

Health Literacy and Justice-Involved Individuals (HLOL #177)

David Young is a Professor and Community Health Specialist at Montana State University. His work involves improving the health and well-being of vulnerable, at-risk, marginalized, hard-to-reach populations. Young’s research is focused on promoting health literacy, health insurance literacy, and improved self-care management skills of those who are incarcerated.

In this podcast, Helen Osborne talks with David Young about:

  • Justice involved individuals.As many as 1 out of 3 adults in the United States (70-100 million) has a criminal record or is involved with the criminal justice system whether arrested without conviction, in jail, in prison, or under community supervision. Learn more at “Americans with Criminal Records.”
  • Health issues affecting this population. Issues include chronic health conditions, infectious diseases, mental illness, substance use disorders, aging, and trauma. Learn more at “Medical Problems of State and Federal Prisoners and Jail Inmates, 2011-12.”
  • Health literacy and health insurance literacy programs that educate returning citizens (those returning to the community) to successfully manage their own health.

More Ways to Learn:

  • Young, D and Weinert C, (2013) “Improving Health Literacy With Inmates.” Read the PDF.
  • Young, D and Weinert C, (2016) “Promoting health insurance and enrollment literacy with jail inmates.” Link to access this article.
  • The Pew Charitable Trusts, 2018. “Jails: Inadvertent Health Care Providers.” Link to this report.
  • Brown, PL. “They’re Out of Prison. Can They Stay Out of the Hospital?” The New York Times,May 29, 2018. Link to article.

Health Literacy from A to Z: Practical Ways to Communicate Your Health Message, Second Edition (Updated 2018), by Helen Osborne. Relevant chapters include: 1, 11, 16, 19, 24, 26, 27, 2832, 41

Read the transcript of this podcast.

Dream Big: Making a Health Literacy Difference Within an Organization and Beyond (HLOL #174)

Laurie Myers is the Global Health Literacy Director for Merck & Co, Inc. In this role, Myers leads the company’s health literacy efforts globally. Her leadership has helped to improve patient communications in medication labeling, packaging, clinical trial materials, lay summaries, patient education, and more. Myers presents this work at conferences around the world and has authored numerous papers about these accomplishments.

In this podcast, Laurie Myers talks with Helen Osborne about:

  • A commitment to health literacy that originated with professional training, personal experience, and opportunity. And why a passion for this topic continues years later.
  • Advocacy from leaders, lawyers, and colleagues to initiate and implement health literacy programs.
  • Building on success within a large organization to making a difference worldwide.

More Ways to Learn:

Health Literacy from A to Z: Practical Ways to Communicate Your Health Message, Second Edition (Updated 2018), by Helen Osborne. Relevant chapters include: 1, 4, 8, 27

Read the transcript of this podcast.

Consider Culture and Language When Communicating About Health (HLOL #171)

Wilma Alvarado-Little MA, MSW focuses on health equity from a linguistic and cultural perspective. She serves as the Associate Commissioner for New York State’s Department of Health and Director of its Office of Minority Health & Health Disparities. Her experience includes work in public policy, research, health literacy, and health disparities prevention. Alvarado-Little also is a healthcare interpreter and has helped develop numerous hospital and clinic-based programs. She is an invited participant on many national and statewide boards that address issues of culture and language in healthcare.

In this podcast, Wilma Alvarado-Little talks with Helen Osborne about:

  • Culture in health communication has many dimensions. Beyond issues of race and ethnicity, includes factors such as socioeconomic status, communication preferences, and even work schedules.
  • Language includes written words, spoken words, and numbers along with body language, context, and potential distractions.
  • Ways to consider culture and language in all forms of health communication.

More ways to learn:

Health Literacy from A to Z: Practical Ways to Communicate Your Health Message, Second Edition (Updated 2018), by Helen Osborne. Relevant chapters include: 7, 15, 18, 27

Read the transcript of this podcast.

Wellness, Women, and Health Literacy (HLOL #170)

Ruth Parker MD, MACP is Professor of Medicine, Pediatrics and Public Health at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia.  For over two decades, her work has focused on research, education, and policy efforts to advance our nation’s health literacy. Ruth Parker’s health literacy accomplishments are many including being an author of the Test of Functional Health Literacy in Adults (TOFHLA) and the widely used definition of health literacy included in numerous scholarly articles and national health policies. She is also a life-long athlete and has completed more than 25 marathons using the RunWalkRun® method. (Pictured in photo on the left)

Carmen Patrick Mohan MD FACP is an internal medicine physician, urban homesteader, and marathon runner who prescribes food and exercise as medicine. She works to foster change in healthcare delivery through internet technology, improved patient communication, and information access. Carmen Patrick Mohan specializes in cardiometabolic risk factor reduction with a focus on women. She is also a competitive runner and on a quest to complete marathons in 50 states and on 7 continents. (In photo on the right)

Dr. Ruth Parker and Dr. Carmen Patrick Mohan talk with Helen Osborne about:

  • The book they co-authored with Jeff Galloway, The Women’s Guide to Health: Run Walk Run, Eat Right, and Feel Better. What this book is about and why it was important to write.
  • How their practice as physicians, experience as marathon runners, and commitment to health literacy help women of all abilities achieve fundamental health.
  • Tips and strategies for podcast listeners–of all professions, genders, ages, and levels of activity—to help others and themselves become more fit and healthy.

More Ways to Learn:

The Women’s Guide to Health: Run Walk Run, Eat Right, and Feel Better, by Jeff Galloway, Ruth Parker, Carmen Patrick Mohan. Published by Meyer & Meyer Sport, 2018. Available on Amazon at https://www.amazon.com/Womens-Guide-Health-Right-Better/dp/1782551239

Author websites:

Health Literacy from A to Z: Practical Ways to Communicate Your Health Message, Second Edition (Updated 2018), by Helen Osborne. Relevant chapters include: 1, 13, 27

Read the written transcript.

Law Enforcement, Risk Management, and Health Literacy (HLOL #169)

Heather Schragg is Director of Patient Experience at Eaton Rapids Medical Center in Eaton Rapids, MI. She not only oversees the hospital’s Risk and Quality Management programs but also its initiatives to improve patient and employee experiences. Heather is committed to helping patients navigate and understand the complicated healthcare system.

Mitch Ross is a police officer in Milwaukee Wisconsin.

Over the years he has held many positions, including work in an Anti-Gang Unit Squad and on a Major Incident Response Team. He also is an adjunct instructor at the Milwaukee Police Training Academy. In addition, Mitch educates civilians about reporting suspicious activities and responding appropriately during active shooter events.

Helen Osborne talks with Heather Schragg and Mitch Ross about:

  • What law enforcement, hospital risk management, and health literacy have in common when it comes to health communication.
  • Effective ways to communicate when a calm situation escalates into a crisis. And ways to use words and body language to help calm a tense situation.
  • Communication tips that all of us, regardless of our profession or setting, can use to build trust and understanding.

Health Literacy from A to Z: Practical Ways to Communicate Your Health Message, Second Edition (Updated 2018), by Helen Osborne. Relevant chapters include: 13, 24, 27, 41

Read the transcript of this podcast.

Advance Care Planning: Communicating Clearly Before There Is a Crisis (HLOL #168)

Aretha Delight Davis MD, JD, and Angelo Volandes MD, MPH, are an amazing team. They not only are married to each another but also created, run, research, and otherwise make possible ACP Decisions — an ever-growing collection of video support tools designed to help patients and families make informed decisions about advance care planning and end-of-life care. They both are physicians. Dr. Davis is also a lawyer. Their accomplishments are many and build on a deep and unwavering commitment to empowering patients.

In this podcast Dr. Davis and Dr. Volandes talk with Helen Osborne about:

  • Advance Care Planning (ACP). What it includes and why this topic is important to patients, caregivers, and healthcare professionals.
  • “Death illiteracy” and other reasons it can be hard to discuss advance care planning.
  • Tips, strategies, and tools to help make advance care planning conversations easier. These include using videos and excellent consumer-facing websites.

More ways to learn:

Health Literacy from A to Z: Practical Ways to Communicate Your Health Message, Second Edition (Updated 2018), by Helen Osborne. Relevant chapters include: 5, 8, 13, 22, 30, 41

Read the transcript of this podcast.

Efforts to Improve the Readability of Medication Labels (HLOL #167)

Joanne Schwartzberg MD is Scholar-in-Residence for the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME). Her career is filled with important accomplishments including many years of teaching, writing, researching, and creating healthcare policy. In my opinion, it’s also thanks in large part to Dr. Schwartzberg’s leadership at the American Medical Association (AMA) that the field of health literacy has flourished and grown.

In this podcast, Dr. Joanne Schwartzberg talks with Helen Osborne about:

  • Why people of all reading abilities have trouble following instructions on medication labels.
  • Ways that designers, pharmacists, scientific organizations, and others are working to improve the readability and usefulness of medication labels.
  • How podcast listeners can be part of this effort to make medication labels better.

More ways to learn:

Health Literacy from A to Z: Practical Ways to Communicate Your Health Message, Second Edition (Updated 2018), by Helen Osborne. Relevant chapters include: 1, 9, 26, 28, 37

Read the transcript of this podcast.

Health Literacy & Consumer Health Librarians (HLOL #161)

Amy Six-Means, MLIS, is on the librarian team at Children’s Health in Dallas, Texas. She worked at two other consumer health libraries prior to that. Six-Means started as an elementary school teacher, later going back to school for a degree in library science. Along the way, she discovered the connection between medical librarianship and health literacy and has been a passionate advocate ever since.

In this podcast, Amy Six-Means talks with Helen Osborne about:

  • What consumer health librarians do, where they work, and how they help patients, caregivers, and the public better understand about illness, treatment, and health.
  • How consumer health librarians can make a difference whether working in hospitals, communities, or healthcare systems.
  • Collaborating with consumer health librarians for better health literacy.

More Ways to Learn:

Examples of collaborative partnerships with medical/consumer health librarians and community members, public health initiatives, or health care organizations to further health literacy and support patients, loved ones, and the community.

Health Literacy from A to Z: Practical Ways to Communicate Your Health Message, Second Edition (Updated 2018), by Helen Osborne. Relevant chapters include: 1, 13, 27, 29, 32

Read the transcript of this podcast.

Reaching Out to Elected Officials about Health and Health Literacy (HLOL #160)

Helen, Mike and ProclamationMichael Jackman is District Director for Massachusetts Congressman William R. Keating. Mike has a long history of public service and community outreach in the areas of health and safety, crime prevention, and wellness. He is involved with numerous initiatives and now chairs a Community Health Network Alliance (CHNA) called the South Shore Community Partners in Prevention. Health literacy is a key component of much of Mike’s work.

In this podcast, Michael Jackman talks with Helen Osborne about:

  • How elected officials can affect health policy and funding at local, state, and national levels.
  • Why it is important for everyday people to participate in this governmental process
  • Examples of ways to bridge the gap between elected officials and health literacy.

More ways to learn:

Health Literacy from A to Z: Practical Ways to Communicate Your Health Message, Second Edition (Updated 2018), by Helen Osborne. Relevant chapters include: 4,13, 27

Read the transcript of this podcast.

Participants, Providers, and Policy Makers Working Together for Better Care (HLOL #158)

frank-rider-ms-07-15Frank Rider, MS, has worn many healthcare “hats.” He is a senior financing specialist within the domestic Policy, Practice and Systems Change programs at the American Institutes for Research. One of his previous jobs was as Chief of the Bureau for Children’s Services for Arizona’s Division of Behavioral Health Services. And starting soon after college, Rider was a foster parent for both the Navajo Nation and state of Arizona. Frank Rider’s life-long commitment to family-driven care builds on all these experiences and perspectives.

In this podcast, Frank Rider talks with Helen Osborne about:

  • “Triple Aim” goals for better healthcare: Better experience, better outcomes, at lowest possible cost.
  • Dissonance and tensions that sometimes arise among differing perspectives.
  • Ways to work towards better care, whatever your scope of influence.

More Ways to Learn:

Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI), at http://www.pcori.org

Health Literacy from A to Z: Practical Ways to Communicate Your Health Message, Second Edition (Updated 2018), by Helen Osborne. Relevant chapters include: 4, 13, 18, 27, 41

Read the transcript of this podcast.

Public Communication: Paying Attention to What We Say and Write (HLOL #156)

Wikipedia-academy-2009-nih-marinMarin Allen, PhD, is the Deputy Associate Director for Communications and Public Liaison and Director of Public Information in the Office of the Director at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Allen has more than 30 years experience in all aspects of public communication. Her many accomplishments include being a full professor at Gallaudet University, working as a media specialist for the White House Conference on Aging, being a faculty member at the University of Maryland, and winning two Emmy awards. She now serves on the National Academy of Medicine’s Roundtable on Health Literacy and is the NIH liaison to the Health and Human Services Workgroup on Health Literacy.

In this podcast, Dr. Marin Allen talks with Helen Osborne about:

  • Why public communication is fundamental to the human condition.
  • Examples of how to consider the needs of everyone including those with communication differences, disorders, and disabilities.
  • Showing respect for, and building trust with, each audience.

More ways to learn:

Health Literacy from A to Z: Practical Ways to Communicate Your Health Message, Second Edition (Updated 2018), by Helen Osborne. Relevant chapters include: 13, 20, 27, 30

Read the transcript for this podcast.

Thinking Big About Health Literacy (HLOL #155)

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Mary Ann Abrams, MD, MPH, is Clinical Assistant Professor in the Department of Pediatrics at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, The Ohio State University College of Medicine. She previously led Iowa Health System’s (now UnityPoint Health) health literacy quality initiative and development of Health Literacy Iowa. Dr. Abrams is also author of Building Health Literate Organizations: A Guidebook to Achieving Organizational Change. Cynthia (Cyndi) Hall MHA, CPHQ, works at the Carolinas Healthcare System, rolling out health literacy education to more than 500 medical offices. As Project Manager for her organization’s “Teach Well” educational program, Cyndi inspires teammates to use proven health literacy techniques and best practices. Shelby Chapman, MA is the Health Literacy Program manager at Children’s Hospital Colorado. This program encompasses patient/family education for the whole system, affecting change throughout the organization.

In this podcast, Mary Ann Abrams, Cyndi Hall, and Shelby Chapman talk with Helen Osborne about:

  • Thinking big about health literacy. Examples of system-wide, sustainable changes to help make health literacy a part of an organization’s culture.
  • Lessons learned about key factors such as making a case for health literacy, engaging others, and measuring and documenting success.
  • Tips and recommendations for thinking big at YOUR organization.

More ways to learn:

Health Literacy from A to Z: Practical Ways to Communicate Your Health Message, Second Edition (Updated 2018), by Helen Osborne. Relevant chapters include: 1, 4, 27

Read the written transcript.

Open Notes: Building Transparency, Trust, and Better Health Outcomes (HLOL #154)

WoodsSusan Woods, MD, MPH, is a seasoned health care and technology executive with broad experience spanning private and public sectors. Dr. Woods not only is a general internist but also consumer informatics expert and Director of Patient Experience for the Connected Care Office at the Veterans Health Administration. Her work focuses on using technology to engage patients and families in health and healthcare. One way is by patients accessing their notes in medical records, otherwise known as Open Notes.

In this podcast, Dr. Susan Woods talks with Helen Osborne about:

  • Open Notes, a way for patients to electronically and securely access their own clinical notes thought a patient portal.
  • How Open Notes benefit patients and providers through transparency, trust, and better health outcomes.
  • What to do even if your healthcare system does not yet use Open Notes.

More Ways to Learn:

Health Literacy from A to Z: Practical Ways to Communicate Your Health Message, Second Edition (Updated 2018), by Helen Osborne. Relevant chapters include: 1, 11, 13, 2736

Read a transcript of this podcast. 

Making Personal Health Records Accessible to All (HLOL #153)

MRothberg_Headshot_hiresMadeleine Rothberg works at the Carl and Ruth Shapiro Family National Center for Accessible Media (NCAM) at the public television and radio station, WGBH. Madeleine works to ensure that multimedia and information technology is accessible to all users, including people with disabilities. One of her many accomplishments is leading the Accessible Designs for Personal Health Records Project.

In this podcast, Madeleine Rothberg talks with Helen Osborne about:

  • Personal Health Records (PHR). What they are and how PHRs are being used to promote health with personalized health information and education.
  • The Accessible Designs for Personal Health Records Project. Creating a model of making personal health information accessible to those who are blind, deaf, or have physical disabilities.
  • Simple tips and recommendations to help make websites more accessible by all.

More ways to learn:

Health Literacy from A to Z: Practical Ways to Communicate Your Health Message, Second Edition (Updated 2018), by Helen Osborne. Relevant chapters include: 20, 23, 27, 30, 39.

Read a transcript of this podcast.

After Visit Summaries (HLOL #152)

image001-2Alex Federman. MD, MPH, is an aging-focused health services researcher at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. His research addresses chronic illness self-management in older adults and focuses on health literacy, cognition and health-related beliefs. Dr. Federman also provides primary care to adults in clinic and home-based settings in New York City.

In this podcast, Dr. Federman talks with Helen Osborne about:

  • After Visit Summaries (AVS), electronic health records, and other ways for patients and providers to exchange information.
  • Language, formatting, and other reasons AVS are not yet ideal patient summaries.
  • Ways providers and patients can use AVS to increase understanding and improve the delivery of care.

Health Literacy from A to Z: Practical Ways to Communicate Your Health Message, Second Edition (Updated 2018), by Helen Osborne. Relevant chapters include: 4, 6, 9, 16, 30

Read the transcript of this podcast.

Making a Case to Senior Leaders about Health Literacy (HLOL #151)

Barbara for Social Media-003Barbara Balik RN, EdD, worked as a nurse and nurse practitioner before moving into leadership roles as chief nursing officer, executive vice president and then CEO of large hospitals and clinics in an extensive healthcare system. Balik co-founded Aefina Partners, an organization committed to healthcare transformation through partnerships among healthcare leaders, physicians, team members, patients, and families. She is on the Senior Faculty at the Institute for Healthcare Improvement and a member of the National Patient Safety Foundation Board of Governors.

In the podcast, Barbara Balik talks with Helen Osborne about:

  • Framing health literacy as essential for partnerships with patients, families, and the community.
  • Six steps for talking about health literacy with senior executives.
  • Making a case for health literacy even when it feels like pushing a rock up the hill.

More ways to learn:

Health Literacy from A to Z: Practical Ways to Communicate Your Health Message, Second Edition (Updated 2018), by Helen Osborne. Relevant chapters include: 4, 27.

Read the transcript for this podcast. 

Ethics to Consider When Communicating About Health (HLOL #150)

mbsiegel_largeDr. Michael Siegel is a Professor in the Department of Community Health Sciences at the Boston University School of Public Health. He is a long-time researcher in tobacco control, publishing extensively on topics that include secondhand smoke, tobacco policy, and national strategies to reduce tobacco use. Dr. Siegel is a leader in the anti-tobacco movement, testifying in support of smoke-free workplace laws and serving as an expert witness in lawsuits against tobacco companies.

In this podcast, Dr. Michael Siegel talks with Helen Osborne about:

  • Hard choices to make when conveying information to the public. For instance, is the intent of your message to inform or persuade? How to communicate risk?
  • Examples of how to be honest, transparent, and clear when informing others about health.
  • Building a trusted relationship with the audience and maintain credibility over time.

More Ways to Learn:

  • Osborne H, Health Literacy from A to Z: Practical Ways to Communicate Your Health Message, Second Edition. 2011, Jones & Bartlett Learning. Includes the chapter, “Ethics of Simplicity.”
  • Osborne H, “In other words: The ethics of simplicity,” On Call magazine, 2004. At http://healthliteracy.com/2004/03/01/ethics-of-simplicity-3/

Health Literacy from A to Z: Practical Ways to Communicate Your Health Message, Second Edition (Updated 2018), by Helen Osborne. Relevant chapters include: 1, 11, 13, 41.

Read the podcast transcript.

Lawyers Can Help with Health Literacy, Too (HLOL #148)

Trudeau-faculty picture-touched upChristopher Trudeau is a Professor at Western Michigan University, Thomas M. Cooley Law School. He is one of the leading advocates on health literacy and the law and widely recognized as an expert on informed consent. Trudeau often speaks to audiences of health professionals, or lawyers, or both about creating processes to not only engage patients but also protect healthcare organizations.

In this podcast, Christopher Trudeau talks with Helen Osborne about:

  • Why lawyers are starting to be more aware of, and engaged with, health literacy
  • How lawyers can use plain language to protect their clients while also helping patients understand medical-legal information
  • Ways that public health professionals, clinicians, and others can start working with lawyers to make health messages clear

More ways to learn:

Health Literacy from A to Z: Practical Ways to Communicate Your Health Message, Second Edition (Updated 2018), by Helen Osborne. Relevant chapters: 1, 4, 12, 27, 28, 30.

Read the written transcript.

Implicit Bias: A Factor in Health Communication (HLOL #146)

Winston WongWinston F. Wong, MD, MS, FAAFP, is a practicing physician who also serves as the Medical Director of Community Benefit at Kaiser Permanente. His work includes developing community and organizational partnerships to eliminate health disparities. Dr. Wong has won numerous awards and serves on a number of national advisory boards including the Institute of Medicine’s Health Literacy Roundtable.

In this podcast, Dr. Wong talks with Helen Osborne about:

  • What implicit bias is and examples of how it can affect health communication.
  • Why even those who consider themselves as unbiased may unconsciously make snap judgments based on how others look and speak.
  • Health literacy and implicit bias. Recommendations of ways to improve health communication and actively explore what matters to each patient.

More ways to learn:

Health Literacy from A to Z: Practical Ways to Communicate Your Health Message, Second Edition (Updated 2018), by Helen Osborne. Relevant chapters include: 18, 24, 27, 41.

Read the transcript of this podcast.

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