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Making Health Care Better for Everyone: Using Health Literacy to Improve Systems and Outcomes

Andrew Pleasant, Chuck Palm, and Jennifer Cabe. “Making Health Care Better for Everyone: Using Health Literacy to Improve Systems and Outcomes,” Berkshire Medical Journal.

Confusing conversations between people and their health care professionals are costly – not only in money but in needless suffering and wasted energy. In this Berkshire Medical Journal article published by our partner Berkshire Health Systems, CRI Senior Director for Health Literacy and Research Andrew Pleasant, Ph.D.; Senior Program Manager Chuck Palm, M.P.H., C.P.H., and Executive Director and Board Member Jennifer Cabe, M.A, offer useful tips for people and their health care professionals to help them communicate better with each other, not only when people are sick and need treatment, but also when they’re healthy and want to stay healthy through prevention. The article marks the first time that the Ask Me 8 approach developed and used by Canyon Ranch Institute has been described in a publication.

Strategies to Enhance Numeracy Skills

Andrew Pleasant, Megan Rooney, Catina O’Leary, Laurie Myers, and Rima Rudd. “Strategies to Enhance Numeracy Skills,” National Academy of Medicine Perspectives.

CRI Senior Director for Health Literacy and Research Andrew Pleasant, Ph.D., is the lead author of this National Academy of Medicine discussion paper that provides guiding principles for health professionals to communicate data and numbers in a clear, simple way. Because poor numeracy skills are widespread, steps to make numbers and their implications more understandable to more people are critical to improved health and quality of life.

Considerations for a New Definition of Health Literacy

Andrew Pleasant, Rima E. Rudd, Catina O’Leary, Michael K. Paasche-Orlow, Marin P. Allen, Wilma Alvarado-Little, Laurie Myers, Kim Parson, Stacey Rosen. “Considerations for a New Definition of Health Literacy,”  National Academy of Medicine Perspectives.

CRI Senior Director for Health Literacy and Research Andrew Pleasant, Ph.D., is the lead author of this new National Academy of Medicine discussion paper urging a new level of consensus on the definition of health literacy. To increase the effectiveness of the field in preventing disease and improving health outcomes, the authors state that four components should be considered in a new definition: system demands as well as individual skills and abilities; measurable components, processes, and outcomes; analysis of change; and linkage between informed decisions and action.

The Emerging Role of Health Literacy in Chronic Disease Management: The Response to a Call for Action in Canada

Iraj Poureslami, Ph.D.; Irving Rootman, Ph.D., LLD (Hon); Andrew Pleasant, Ph.D.; and J. Mark FitzGerald, M.D., Population Health Management

Advancing the health literacy of health care professionals and the people for whom they provide care can improve prevention, diagnosis, management, and even help reverse many chronic diseases. In 2013, CRI Senior Director for Health Literacy and Research Andrew Pleasant, Ph.D., and several experts, notably from the University of British Columbia, convened and participated in a workshop to explore what was needed in health care research and practice to improve the links between health literacy and chronic disease management. In this article, Andrew and his workshop co-conveners urge physicians to take advantage of the rapidly increasing knowledge about health literacy and apply it to their practices. The specific goal of this call to action is to motivate and support doctors to help create new knowledge about how health literacy can improve chronic disease management.

Introduction to Health Disparities and Respiratory Health

Pleasant, Andrew, Jennifer Cabe, Richard H. Carmona, Introduction to the newly released volume “Health Disparities and Respiratory Health”  published by Springer as part of the Respiratory Medicine series.

CRI Senior Director for Health Literacy and Research Andrew Pleasant, Ph.D., CRI Executive Director and Board Member Jennifer Cabe, M.A., and CRI President Richard H. Carmona, M.D., M.P.H., FACS, co-authored the introductory chapter of Health Disparities in Respiratory Medicine, edited by Lynn B. Gerald, Ph.D, M.S.P.H, and Cristine E. Berry, Ph.D., M.D., M.H.S. The overall volume explores health disparities in respiratory medicine and suggests methods to reduce them. The introduction addresses the complex connections among poor respiratory health, the proximal causes, as well as the social and environmental determinants such as health literacy that underpin inequities in respiratory health. The introductory chapter closes by suggesting possible ways to address respiratory health issues and the inequities in respiratory health.

Do As I Tweet, Not As I Do: Comparing Physical Activity Data Between Fitness Tweets and Healthy People 2020

Ted Vickey and John G. Breslin. Do as I tweet, not as I do: comparing physical activity data between fitness tweets and Healthy People 2020. mHealth.

Social media networks, mobile fitness apps, and other disruptive health technologies are here to stay, and health and fitness professionals and researchers could benefit by leveraging data from the ever-growing numbers of people who use them. CRI Senior Advisor for Disruptive Health Technologies Ted Vickey, M.S., recently published some of his findings about using Twitter to collect valuable information on physical activity and improving health outcomes in the journal mHealth..

Health Literacy and Consumer-Facing Technology: Workshop Summary

National Academy of Medicine. October 28, 2015. Health Literacy and Consumer-Facing Technology: Workshop Summary

The proliferation of consumer-facing technology and personal health information technology has grown steadily over the past decade, making it easier for people to track their fitness and personal health. However, the large volume of health-related information that these devices can generate and input into personal health records can also lead to increased confusion. The goal of this workshop was to explore health literate practices in health information technology and then consider the ramifications of this rapidly growing field on the health literacy of users. The opening address by CRI Senior Advisor for Disruptive Health Technologies Ted Vickey, M.S., led off the workshop, and is included in this summary.

Health Literacy Research and Practice: A Needed Paradigm Shift

Andrew Pleasant, Jennifer Cabe, Kavita Patel, Jennifer Cosenza, Richard Carmona. Health Literacy Research and Practice: A Needed Paradigm Shift. Health Communication.

CRI Senior Director for Health Literacy and Research Andrew Pleasant, Ph.D.; CRI Executive Director and Board Member Jennifer Cabe, M.A.; CRI Board Member Kavita Patel, M.D., M.S.H.S.; CRI Senior Advisor for Partnerships and Public Health Communications Jennifer Cosenza, M.A.; and CRI President Richard H. Carmona, M.D., M.P.H., FACS,  co-authored an article advocating the reframing of health literacy as a positive solution to improve health at lower costs. This reframing, from a perspective that too often focuses on the negative effects of low health literacy among individuals, presents to policymakers a clear choice to either adopt and promote the best practices of health literacy or suffer the consequences of ignoring a proven, viable solution to the currently unsustainable health care expenditures and ever-increasing burden of preventable disease, disability, and early death..

Envisioning the Future of Health Professional Education

National Academy of Medicine. September 14, 2015. Envisioning the Future of Health Professional Education: Workshop Summary

CRI partnerships and programs are used as real-world examples in this new Institute of Medicine workshop summary from the Global Forum on Innovation in Health Professional Education. The forum came together in April 2015 discuss opportunities for building a global health workforce that understands the role of culture and health literacy in perceptions and approaches to health and disease. CRI Executive Director & Board member Jennifer Cabe, M.A., and Senior Director for Health Literacy and Research Andrew Pleasant, Ph.D., took part along with CRI colleague Cliff Coleman, M.D., of Oregon Health & Sciences University in a panel entitled, “Envisioning a Globalized Health Professional Education (Globalization and Challenges to HPE.)”

Health Literacy: Past, Present, and Future

National Academy of Medicine. August 11, 2015. Health Literacy: Past, Present, and Future: Workshop Summary

Over the past decade, understanding of health literacy has evolved to include not just individuals’ skills and abilities but the demands and complexities of the systems with which individuals interact. This Institute of Medicine workshop summary features discussions of the progress made in the field of health literacy, as well as possible directions for future health literacy efforts. Remarks from CRI Senior Advisor for Health Literacy and Research Andrew Pleasant, Ph.D., are on page 89. CRI is a member of the Institute of Medicine’s Roundtable on Health Literacy.

Health Literacy: A Necessary Element for Achieving Health Equity

National Academy of Medicine. July 24, 2015. Health Literacy: A Necessary Element for Achieving Health Equity

This National Academy of Medicine discussion paper explores the connections among health literacy, health equity, and health disparities. The authors use the Canyon Ranch Institute Life Enhancement Program at Urban Health Plan in the South Bronx, NY, as an example of a successful health literacy intervention that has produced positive impacts for participants’ knowledge, attitudes, beliefs, behaviors and – most importantly – health status. The paper was produced by members of the Institute of Medicine Roundtable on Health Literacy.

Read the discussion paper

Advancing Health Literacy Measurement: A Pathway to Better Health and Health System Performance

Pleasant, Andrew. Advancing Health Literacy Measurement: A Pathway to Better Health and Health System Performance. Journal of Health Communication: International Perspectives.  

Low levels of healthy literacy have been linked with poor health, poor health care utilization, increased barriers to care, and early death. However, methods for measuring health literacy have continually evolved and remain incomplete. In this paper, CRI Senior Advisor for Health Literacy and Research Andrew Pleasant, Ph.D., highlights the need for a comprehensive update to the definition of health literacy and for a universally applicable healthy literacy measurement in order to improve public health and health system performance.