Healthcare Literacy and Communication With Health Professionals: Achieving Healthy Outcomes Among Diverse Populations

Saturday, 29 July 2017

Mary Lou De Natale, EdD, MSN
School of Nursing and Health Professions, University of San Francisco, School of Nursing and Health Professions, San Francisco, CA, USA

The importance of understanding the culture and literacy in working with individual and families in the community is essential for nurses and health care providers. Whether an individual is accessing food or nutrition for their daily nutritional needs or seeking medical services at a community clinic it is the opportunity to listen to the conversations and respond in a caring and compassionate way to clients at their point of care in the community. Effective communication that is client-centered with knowledge of health resources is necessary in directing the health of the community with diversity in culture, language, and access to health care services. The community resources that are available to support health promotion of their community should have the availability of resources for the clients in order to deliver quality care that can support: (1) access to a consistent health provider locally, (2) time with the physician to clarify the causes of misunderstanding related to health care, lack of compliance of medications and (3) follow-up as needed with a teach-back with a translator at the point of care. Medical follow-up with primary physician can influence overall health promotion and wellness (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2016).

Health providers must be knowledgeable and assist in the navigation of health care services and provide help with literacy and communication that is delivered with care and communication that is client-center and based on the identified health care need. The health and wellness of the person in health care can be compromised if the client's perception of health and wellness is different from that of the primary providers and health team. Additionally, nurses and health care providers can support education in health care and primary language preference with effective communication at the client's appointment or in follow-up by telephone or referrals to case management and social services in the community. It takes a community of providers taking time to understand culture and communication.

Being able to communicate and delver health care to populations at risk and support literacy skills are important. Keeping language, it is important is keep language simple and being able to define technical terms in the plan of care (National Institute of Health, 2016; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2016). The availability of the health care provider to be able to know their patient, review their plan of care, diet to be maintained, or medication to be taken in the total plan of care is essential. This is important with only 12% of adults having proficiency in health literacy (Center of Disease Control, 2015). The lack of knowledge and misinformation that can be due to health care literacy, primary language, or ease of access to services in the community has been important for disease prevention and healthy lifestyle.

This research project was directed at the client accessing food and nutrition at a local Community Center particularly those with lower incomes or homeless families and older adults. A survey was distributed to clients in English, Spanish, and Mandarin speaking denoting their current health, access to medical care and services, consistency of the care provider, and the quality of their time and communication with the physician and health team. The value of communication and a partnership in understanding health care needs, assisting in health care decisions, and supporting personal concerns in critical to managing care and partnerships in practice in the local community.

Overall, this research project has the potential for nurses and health providers to better understand human presence and communication at community centers or other points of care for all individuals and families. Whether assisting with food choices or being available for a health care concern or offer blood pressure screening there are options for health promotion and wellness. For nurses or health providers there is a need to develop new strategies to assist the individual, family, or older adult with chronic health care needs whether heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and / or cancer. Communication is an integral part of the quality of care in the community and it is important to consistently the options available, accessiblity to health care, and social services to meet the priorities of care. This project could provide a foundation for the health care teams learning to communicate and offer opportunities caring for diverse populations in order to manage care and support quality of life.