Six out of 10 Aussies have low health literacy
Updated: Sep 19, 2017
By Kaye Bearlin, BLPCP Health Literacy & Consumer Engagement Project Worker
Many Australians have trouble understanding and using information provided by organisations. They also have trouble navigating complicated systems like healthcare services. When we use jargon, technical terms or acronyms, it is hard for people with low health literacy to understand and use information.
Bendigo Loddon primary Care Partnership has undertaken a number of audits of health organisations. We found that the average consumer can read and understand only about 10 per cent of the brochures and written information provided or displayed.
Here are some important health literacy tips to keep in mind next time you’re working with a client and need to explain complex information:
1. Communication is a two-way street; listen to your client. Adapt your approach to suit their needs.
2. Face your client; speak slowly and clearly. Use simple gestures and body language to make it easy for your client to hear and understand you. Explain the most important information first. Repeat it or rephrase it if necessary.
3. Use plain everyday words. Try using words like “change” instead of “modify”, “keep track of” instead of “monitor” and “amount you need to pay” instead of “out-of-pocket expense”.
4. If you want your client to do something, be specific and check their understanding by encouraging them to paraphrase your instructions. Write it down if you think a client might forget or if the instruction has a few steps.
5. Encourage your clients to talk, ask questions and share their opinions. Not only does it help your client’s comprehension, but it gives insight into their needs.
6. Consider drawing a simple diagram or printing out information for your client to take home.
7. Make sure any documents you give your clients are informative, appropriate for their situation, written in a simple and direct style, and are visually appealing with fonts and diagrams that are easy to read.
8. Don’t make assumptions. Everyone benefits from clear, easy to understand information.
Sign up for Drop the Jargon Day Tuesday 24 October 2017
If your organisation is keen to have further information contact Bendigo Loddon Primary Care Partnership’s Health Literacy and Community Empowerment Project Worker, Kaye Bearlin Kayebearlin@bchs.com.au .