Health Literacy An Educational Program for the Acute Care Professional Nurse
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Health literacy is fundamental to promotion, prevention, and maintenance of one’s health. It is pertinent to one’s ability to obtain, understand, and use information in order to make informed healthcare decisions. The provision of patient-centered nursing care is required by Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and accreditation agencies. An acute care hospital in the Midwest experienced low patient satisfaction scores specific to communication with the nursing staff. In order to increase these scores, a needs assessment was performed to determine the nursing staffs’ knowledge of definition of health literacy, its attributes, impact on health disparities, and patient-centered care. Based on the results, a pilot health literacy educational program for the acute nurse was developed, implemented, and evaluated to meet this need. One hundred and twenty-five nurses out of 365 (34%) completed a classroom course and 599 nurses out of 706 (85%) took an additional web-based course. As the result of the course, 563 (94%) of the nurses were able to define health literacy, 575 (96%) were able to identify attributes of health literacy, 587 (98%) were able to identify different types of health literacy, 563 (94%) were able to identify strategies for assessing the attributes of health literacy, and 581 (97%) were able to identify nursing interventions to bridge health literacy gaps specific patient-centered education. Outcomes specific to patient satisfaction and nurse sensitive indicators were not measured due to changes in the hospital’s patient satisfaction reporting mechanisms. The evidence-based practice change, synthesis of the evidence to support the change, outcome evaluation methodologies, the results, strength and limitations of the program and future implications for nursing are discussed.
Keywords: health literacy, nursing, patient education