October is Health Literacy Month, a time when health literacy advocates around the world promote the importance of making health information understandable.
Health Literacy Month is a grassroots campaign aimed at promoting the importance of understandable health communication.
What is health literacy?
There are different definitions for Health Literacy, but Helen Osborne, president of Health Literacy Consulting and founder of this annual, worldwide, awareness-raising event, says “health literacy is a shared responsibility between patients and providers. Each must communicate in ways the other can understand.”
Why is it important?
In 2004, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) published a report titled “Health Literacy: A Prescription to End Confusion” that stated that “nearly half of all American adults — 90 million people — have difficulty understanding and acting on health information.”
The reasons affecting the way people receive and process information may vary — health information being inherently complex, health providers not necessarily being skilled communicators, among other factors. In any case, difficulty in reading, understanding, and acting on health information has a direct impact on health outcomes and cost.
What role do medical translations play?
Providing understandable and accessible health information is a crucial part of Healthcare services, which means that healthcare translations should be culturally and linguistically accurate as well as easy to read.
Taking into account that culturally diverse individuals with limited literacy and limited English proficiency (LEP) are among the most vulnerable patients, recognizing and bridging cultural differences can increase communication effectiveness between providers and patients.
Or as the Health Literacy Month encourages us to do: “Finding the right words for a better health”
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