Improving communication in healthcare for patients with low health literacy: Building competencies of health professionals and shifting towards health literacy friendly organizations

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    Health literacy problems occur frequently: between 29% and 62% of the people in Europe have limited health literacy. People with limited health literacy are at higher risk for health problems as they have difficulties understanding information, communicating with healthcare professionals and navigating healthcare.

    In her dissertation, Marise Kaper concludes that healthcare professionals and -organizations can reduce the problems because of limited health literacy of patients, by tailoring their communication and provision of care more specifically to the needs and capacities of patients.

    Her research shows that comprehensive training in communication increases health literacy competencies of (future) healthcare professionals in various European countries. The training especially improved the provision of comprehensible information, promoting shared decision-making and enabling self-management. In addition, she concludes that an organization-wide approach to address health literacy can result in a more patient-centered way of working by healthcare providers and more health literacy responsive healthcare organizations. Facilitators for the implementation of an organization-wide intervention were assigning a change champion and project committee, management support, involvement of patients, simultaneous use of top-down and bottom-up strategies, commitment of staff and sufficient resources. Tangible changes regarded greater knowledge and competencies to address health literacy among health professionals, more comprehensible communication and information, and embedding of health literacy in policies at organizational level.

    Comprehensive communication training and organization-wide interventions within healthcare and education in Europe thus offer many opportunities to improve communication with and health care provision to people with limited health literacy.
    Original languageEnglish
    QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
    Awarding Institution
    • University of Groningen
    • Reijneveld, Menno, Supervisor
    • de Winter, Andrea, Co-supervisor
    Award date30-Jun-2021
    Place of Publication[Groningen]
    Publication statusPublished - 2021

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