Health literacy as a patients job

An article on Simplifying patient communication can lead to better health outcomes by Eve Becker, crossed my stream today. I was struck by this statement:

“Enter the field of health literacy, which aims to help physicians increase patient communication, speak in plain language and write clear prescriptions with easy-to-understand instructions.”

I found myself wondering why the field of health literacy was defined by something physicians need to, rather than something that needs a more systematic approach. I don’t think of health literacy as a physicians job, I think of it as a patients job.

I also wonder, why don’t we teach health literacy in school? At one point or another, everyone will get a prescription from a doctor. Why don’t we teach, in health class, how to fill a prescription and what the different directions might mean?

Patient with chronic or critical illness have special health literacy needs. Their interactions with the healthcare system are much more complex. These patients need to develop a special type of health literacy. This is what I’m trying to figure out with my dissertation. What are the things that patients of critical/chronic illness need to learn, and how do they go about it? I do not see health literacy as a physicians job, I see it as a patients.

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