North Carolina AHEC Program
spring 2011 newsletter | home

Health Literacy at Discharge: Do They Really Understand?

Wake AHEC hosted Jordan Perry, MPH student at UNC-Chapel Hill, to provide an action learning lab on “Health Literacy at Discharge: Do They Really Understand?” Inpatient hospital stays have become increasingly shorter resulting in patients being discharged to return to less than optimal conditions at home. Therefore, it is vital that when patients are discharged they have a clear understanding of instructions given to them by health care providers in order to achieve the best overall outcome. Jordan’s project entailed evaluating discharge instructions given to patients in hospitals in the Wake AHEC region. Attendees were given the opportunity to look at samples of their own instructions and critique them after being provided information and guidelines on Health Literacy.

The desired outcome of the experience was that each would return to their facility and evaluate/revise discharge instructions and share with colleagues. Various teaching methods were used including lecture, word games, pre and post-test, an automatic response system for identifying current knowledge, group work and individual assessments. Each participant was given materials to take back and use in their facility to promote Health Literacy. Wake AHEC plans to follow up with each facility to determine what revisions they have made. The program was supported by a grant through the Carolina Geriatric Education Center (CGEC).

Wake AHEC is partnering with the Wake Health Literacy Coalition and the North Carolina Academy of Family Physicians to sponsor a one hour webinar for family physicians on Health Literacy. According to the National Assessment of Adult Literacy, nearly 9 out of 10 adults do not have proficient health literacy and therefore may not have the skills required to manage their health and prevent disease. People with low health literacy are less likely to use screening and prevention services, understand how to take their medications, keep chronic health conditions in check, and more likely to be hospitalized (Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality).

This program will provide the family practitioner and staff basic information on the importance of health literacy in practice in an effort to improve communication, care and outcomes. The program is funded by the North Carolina Academy of Family Physicians.