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Poor Health Literacy as a Barrier to Patient Care

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Only 12% of adults have proficient health literacy, according to the National Assessment of Adult Literacy. In other words, nearly 9 out of 10 adults may lack the skills needed to manage their health and prevent disease. The elderly patient is at especially high risk for having low health literacy. To provide optimal care for patients, pharmacists and other health care practitioners must understand the problems of health literacy and incorporate strategies and tools to improve the effectiveness of their communication with patients.

Abbreviations: REALM = Rapid Estimate of Adult Literacy in Medicine, TOFHLA = Test of Functional Health Literacy in Adults.

Keywords: Communication; Elderly; Functional literacy; Health literacy

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: May 1, 2008

More about this publication?
  • The Consultant Pharmacist® is the official peer-reviewed journal of the American Society of Consultant Pharmacists. It is dedicated exclusively to the medication needs of the elderly in all settings, including adult day care, ambulatory care, assisted living, community, hospice, and nursing facilities. This award-winning journal is a member benefit of ASCP. Individuals who are not members and wish to receive The Consultant Pharmacist® will want to consider joining ASCP.
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