Health literacy is a term that practi- tioners increasingly use but rarely define. For patients with rheumatic and musculoskeletaldisease (RMDs), health literacy – or, actually, a lack ofhealth literacy – can manifest in different ways, andaddressing these deficien-cies is not a one-size-fits-allapproach.
Mark Bakker, a doctoralstudent at Maastricht (Netherlands) University, will explainhow identifying differentprofiles of health literacy mayhelp to break through thosehealth-literacy barriers in a 5June PARE abstract session presentation.
“Health literacy is so much more than
just being able to read and write,” Mr. Bak-
ker said. “It’s so much more than just health
behaviour. It’s often misunderstood.”
Mr. Bakker and his research team took
a multidimensional approach to health
literacy. “It involves per-
sonal competencies,” he
said. “It also involves situ-
ational resources in which
people might need to find,
appraise, and understand
information, but also to ac-
cess services in health, to
make health decisions.”
Health literacy also
involves interactive skills,
a capacity to critically ap-
praise care, and having a
social support structure, he
said. Different estimations
of limited health literacy in the Nether-
lands point towards a prevalence of about
30%, which, he said, is a lot higher thanmany might realise.
Patients with low health literacy mayuse disproportionate amounts of healthresources, Mr. Bakker noted. These patients may display poor decision-makingabout their own health, lack medicationadherence, and use emergency servicesand specialised care more frequently whileusing preventive services less. “There isan increasing amount of literature available associating limited health literacy to anumber of worsening outcomes,” he said.
Sometimes, these patients have difficulty asking the right questions. “Theymay not even know where to begin,” Mr.Bakker said.
Healthcare professionals may feel likethey don’t have enough time to probe theseissues deeper with patients. “They mightnot have the tools to provide patients withthe right information in the right way,” hesaid. “And it might be very hard for pro
Efforts towards identifying health-literacy
profiles fill an important need in rheumatology
Continued on page 10
Don’t Delay, Connect Today is a EULAR initiativethat unites the voices of its three pillars, patient(PARE) organisations, scientific member societiesand health professional associations – as well as itsinternational network – with the goal of highlighting the importance of early diagnosisand access to treatment. Our Campaign PartnerCountries are:
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