Demanding Health Literacy
Marijke Durning | NursingLink
Patient teaching and patient education are big topics in nursing. Good preventative health education helps keep people from becoming patients and good patient education helps patients from getting worse or helps them manage their condition or illness.
It used to be that nurses had time to sit down and discuss various issues with their patients, answering questions and generally providing support. With cutbacks all over health care, be they from the recession and layoffs, to a shortage of nursing, there are higher patient loads, higher expectations, and fewer staff members. This leads to patient education being but a memory for many nurses.
Rather than nurses educating patients, patient education material is provided to patients and families on an as-needed basis. In a perfect world, this would be a great solution: we don’t have time to talk to them, so we provide them with the written information that can be saved and referred to later. But we don’t live in a perfect world, and the written word is not as effective as the spoken word.
The written word can’t:
• Answer questions as the patients ask them
• Provide alternate ways of explaining things if they’re not understood in their present form
• Always be understood by the reader if the reading level is too high
• Be read by someone who cannot read