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Taking Stock of Health Literacy Activities in 2015

Posted on by Cynthia Baur

Another October and Health Literacy Month observance has come and gone, and we approach the end of a calendar year and all the stock-taking that often goes along with that.

Many familiar events took place once again in 2015.

  • Wisconsin Health Literacy Summit, a bi-annual event that draws national and international attendance and shares practice-based information on adult literacy and its implications for health, as well as health literacy research and practice
  • Institute for Healthcare Advancement (IHA) annual health literacy meeting that also attracts participants from many countries with its mix of health literacy research and practice sessions
  • Health Literacy Annual Research Conference that brings together researchers from different disciplines and countries to share research and interventions

Health literacy even made it on the agenda of an international global development and health conference in Berlin. The World Health Summit, an annual gathering of international organization representatives, government officials, academics, civil society groups, and students, hosted a health literacy workshop with presenters from five countries.

In addition to these international and national events, many states, local organizations, and professional groups convened health literacy gatherings or included health literacy on their meeting agendas. In addition to the Wisconsin and IHA meetings, I’ve participated in state or regional meetings for Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, and Tennessee, and provided health literacy information to professionals at meetings on substance abuse and mental health services, oral health, and food literacy.

What do all these professional activities tell us about the state of health literacy progress? Are we getting the leadership support we need to make change? Are we translating research into action? Are we making sure we’re paying attention to all social groups affected by limited health literacy?

Please tell us about health literacy activities in your state or country and if you think you’re making enough progress to improve health literacy in your corner of the world.

Posted on by Cynthia Baur

3 comments on “Taking Stock of Health Literacy Activities in 2015”

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    Alabama has agreed to add 3 questions to the BRFSS set of questions for 2016; the Governor for the State of Alabama appointed a 37 member Task Force for Healthcare Improvement in May of 2015 (Executive Order #4) from which a Health Literacy Partnership Stakeholder meeting is being planned for February 12, 2016; 4 nationally recognized speakers will present information on the Past, Present and Future of Health Literacy (Terry Davis, PhD); State Health Literacy information (Cynthia Baur, PhD from the CDC); Research findings related to healthcare providers, curriculum gaps etc. (Clifford Coleman, MD) and Universal Precautions (Joseph Betancourt, MD).

    The Alabama Health Literacy Coalition continues to meet and develop an infrastructure encouraging participation from all sectors of the state.

    A stand alone Health Literacy course continues to be taught at UAB in Birmingham for all pre-professional healthcare students.

    At Mexico´s National Autonomous University we are implementing a holistic program, encompassing physical, emotional, academic and cultural wellness, directed at HighSchool risk-related students.
    We are interested in bridging the gap, open to suggestions in Spanish.

    At the first ever Tennessee Health Literacy Forum, at University of Tennessee Medical Center in Knoxville, we had a great start to what I hope will be a long and fruitful conversation toward improving health literacy in Tennessee. The Forum’s 6 speakers focused one of the goals of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ National Action Plan to Improve Health Literacy – “promote changes in the health care delivery system that improve health information, communication, informed decision-making, and access to health service.” We were honored to have Cynthia Baur as our keynote speaker.
    108 people preregistered for the event with a wide range of professions represented, including health care professionals, educators, librarians, government officials and business leaders. The half-day event closed with a 40 minute discussion which was full of relevant questions for the panel of speakers, and comments by the participants. When the discussion ended, it felt like there was more to say, and many people have already committed to continuing the conversation! So look for the Tennessee Health Literacy Forum to become an annual event!

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