Blogs

Blogs

Time to Refocus Our Efforts on Plain and Clear COVID-19 Messaging: Introducing the Clear Health Communication Collaborative (CHCC) by Michael Villaire , MSLM and Barbra Kingsley , Ph.D. The third anniversary of the onset of COVID-19 is approaching, and here in the United States, as in much of the world, COVID-19 fatigue is a real thing. And there are troubling signs: About 63% of U.S. adults say they only occasionally or never wear a mask outside their home. Infections are on the rise in Europe , which has previously served as a bellwether for the United States. Increased levels of the virus in wastewater , another harbinger of ...
Celebrating Health Literacy Month: 7 Ways to Raise Awareness by Julie McKinney , What is Health Literacy Month? Every October for the past 23 years, we’ve been celebrating Health Literacy Month ! Maybe it doesn’t come with pumpkins, fireworks, dancing, or gift-giving...but it’s an exciting month with lots going on in the health literacy (HL) community! Health Literacy Month is a way to recognize the importance of making health information easier to understand and act on; and to come together as organizations and communities to raise health literacy awareness and help make that happen. Many organizations plan special events or projects at this ...
October is Health Literacy Month by Helen Osborne, M.Ed., OTR/L October is Health Literacy Month. This annual event is a time when organizations and individuals worldwide raise awareness about the importance of understandable health information. The idea behind Health Literacy Month is the same now as it was when I first proposed it in 1999--for health literacy advocates everywhere to speak with a shared voice about why health literacy matters. Doing so together not only conveys a sense of urgency but also can generate media attention when many people speak about the same topic at the same time. There are infinite ways to participate in ...
Community Health Workers and Promotores/Promotoras – Bridging the Health Literacy Gap by Russell Bennett, MBA, CHIE Over the years, I’ve had the pleasure of working with community health workers (CHWs), known in Spanish as “promotores” or “promotoras.” These workers play a critical role in the community as patient educators, advocates, mentors, and outreach workers. In addition, they help bridge the health literacy gap between patients and healthcare providers. Being Part of the Community Most CHWs are part of the community they serve. This helps them win patients’ trust and makes them more effective in all they do. Serving as Translators ...
IHA recognizes Juneteenth (Emancipation Day) as an Important Day By Marian Ryan, Ph.D., MA, MPH Juneteenth (Emancipation Day, Freedom Day, Juneteenth Independence Day) President Joe Biden signed legislation on June 17, 2021, proclaiming Juneteenth (June 19) a federal paid holiday. IHA recognizes Juneteenth as an important day in our history and an important one for working toward equity — especially health equity — by committing to continued research into inclusive best practices in health literacy and facilitating policies to promote their implementation. History Juneteenth is the oldest known celebration commemorating the end of slavery ...
A Conference to Support You as We Enter a New Epoch by Michael Villaire, MSLM On May 10-12, 2022, we’ll hold our 21 st annual IHA Health Literacy Conference . As you can see, we’ve been doing this for a long time! Over the years, we’ve provided information and training to thousands of health literacy professionals. While we’ve always tried to be topical in our educational offerings, since the pandemic, this has been an even more determined focus. More on that shortly. In the more than 20 years that I’ve been at IHA, much has changed, for me personally (once-brown hair is now solidly gray, thank you very much) and in the world of health ...
Digital Health Literacy: The New Normal by Michele Erikson, BA I was at an NBA game on Valentine’s Day when my stomach began to rumble — the hungry kind of rumble, which is far better than the other kind of stomach rumble. I can usually fix this with a stroll up to concessions and the resignation that I will have to pay a ridiculous amount of money for a brat, burger, or slice of pizza. But this time, I found empty counters with lots of signs promoting the team’s concession app for downloading and preordering food for contactless pickup. Hmmm … I thought about the process of online ordering and walked the venue full circle to avoid any more technological ...
by Sylvia Baedorf Kassis, MPH Early in the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, my 7-year-old was terrified when my husband, a critical care doctor, notified us that his COVID test was negative. Believing that a negative result meant bad news, my son feared Dad would be hospitalized with the illness. While on the flipside, a positive test would have meant good news and that Dad didn’t have COVID. For me, this misunderstanding in our household was just more proof that you can never assume what anyone, regardless of age or environment, already knows or understands about a topic. Attention to health literacy and use of plain language are both critical to understanding. ...
The Role of Libraries and Librarians in Health Literacy by Semhar Yohannes, MPH, ML S As a science librarian for nearly 10 years, I have encountered numerous patrons who need help locating information on a recent medical diagnosis, locating reliable websites about different supplemental vitamins, navigating databases, etc. Libraries and librarians have been involved in patient education and health education for over a century. Increasingly, libraries and librarians have focused on improving the community’s access to high-quality health information, expanding their involvement in research to address health literacy disparities, and producing inclusive ...
Masks, Travel, Disability, and … Health Literacy? by Lorraine Thomas, MA We’ve all been there. Caught up in some absurd moment that leaves us shaking our heads in disbelief. And later, upon reflection, an image begins to form; we’re able to see parallels between that experience and our work. For me, the absurdity came while traveling—during a pandemic. The clarity came later. An analogy formed; suddenly I saw the correlations between an exasperating experience and my work in health literacy. After nearly a year and a half of lockdown, I had the chance to fly home this summer. While I was happy to make the trip, I also felt trepidation. Being trapped ...

The Aha! Moment of Not Knowing

The Aha! Moment of Not Knowing by Marguerite DeBello , PhD, RN, ACNS-BC, CNE I would like to admit something … I don’t know everything. This past summer, my mother ended up in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) with an unusual infection in her neck and throat resulting in her intubation. This was complicated by her respiratory sarcoidosis. ICU is not my background. As I sat there, the physicians and nurses were trying to explain to me what was going on. I realized that at this moment in time I was no longer the nurse, educator, and expert I like to think of myself as. You see, there were technology and protocols that I had only read about but never experienced. ...
What the Pandemic Taught Me About Health Literacy by Lisa Fitzpatrick, MD The COVID-19 pandemic is highlighting our failures to communicate health and scientific information in plain language. These failures have further eroded trust in research, public health, and the medical establishment, particularly among people I serve in underserved communities. But there is a silver lining: People are paying attention and are hungrier than ever for understandable and usable health information. They want our support to improve their health literacy. However, the pandemic has taught me why we must do better. My experiences walking the streets and hosting ”Ask the ...
Legally Speaking: The 21st Century Cures Act Draft Legislation – Giving a Voice to Health Literacy by Karen Alicia Shaw , J.D., LL.M. October is Health Literacy Month! This is an exciting time to celebrate and to promote health literacy awareness. Over the past year, two great things have happened for health literacy. First, in August 2020, the Healthy People 2030 initiative expanded its definition of health literacy by incorporating organizational health literacy . This marked the first time in 20 years that the definition of health literacy had been expanded. Since then, healthcare organizations have been implementing the new health ...
Celebrating Health Literacy Month: 7 Ways to Raise Awareness by Julie McKinney , What is Health Literacy Month? Every October for the past 20 years, we’ve been celebrating Health Literacy Month ! Maybe it doesn’t come with pumpkins, fireworks, dancing, or gift-giving...but it’s an exciting month with lots going on in the health literacy (HL) community! Health Literacy Month is a way to recognize the importance of making health information easier to understand and act on; and to come together as organizations and communities to raise health literacy awareness and help make that happen. Many organizations plan special events or projects at this ...
October is Health Literacy Month by Helen Osborne, M.Ed., OTR/L October is Health Literacy Month. This annual event is a time when organizations and individuals worldwide raise awareness about the importance of understandable health information. The idea behind Health Literacy Month is the same now as it was when I first proposed it in 1999--for health literacy advocates everywhere to speak with a shared voice about why health literacy matters. Doing so together not only conveys a sense of urgency but also can generate media attention when many people speak about the same topic at the same time. There are infinite ways to participate in ...
By DeJuan Patterson, MPA Who I Am and Who I Represent I am a Baltimore-based advocate and credible messenger. Credible messengers are trusted neighborhood leaders and experienced community advocates with relevant life experiences who help community members transform their attitudes and behaviors around a public policy issue. I leverage my unique experience as a government affairs professional and grassroots leader with a history of frontline advocacy to address public issues in my city. My personal journey following my experience with gun violence taught me the importance of having a voice and developing my own agency as it related to my medical treatment ...
By Janet Ohene-Frempong In a time of turmoil: Back in the summer of 2020, I was invited to give a keynote presentation at the Colorado Health Literacy Coalition’s virtual conference, and was kindly given some leeway regarding what to talk about. We were in the midst of a raging pandemic. Minorities had been dying from COVID-19 in a magnitude that garnered national attention. In March, Breonna Taylor had been ambushed and killed while sleeping in her own house. George Floyd had been publicly executed in May, over the use of a possibly counterfeit 20-dollar bill. Massive protests were taking place all around the globe. And we were facing what many thought ...
By Marian Ryan Juneteenth (Emancipation Day, Freedom Day, Juneteenth Independence Day) President Joe Biden signed legislation on June 17, 2021, proclaiming Juneteenth (June 19) a federal paid holiday. IHA recognizes Juneteenth as an important day in our history and an important one for working toward equity — especially health equity — by committing to continued research into inclusive best practices in health literacy and facilitating policies to promote their implementation. History Juneteenth is the oldest known celebration commemorating the end of slavery in the United States. However, the actual proclamation was declared 2½ years ...
By Barbra Kingsley An elderly neighbor recently asked me for advice on a letter she had received about her health insurance. She couldn’t understand what she had paid, what the insurance company had paid, or what needed to happen next. She was also concerned – fearing she may be liable for a payment she needed to make. We went over the (very confusing) letter together, and I told her that she was fine. It didn’t appear she owed anything further and, if she did, they would likely send her another, equally confusing letter. We had a laugh, but then she suddenly became quite serious. “You know, Barbra, I guess I’m not very smart. I couldn't even understand ...