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The American Medical Association Foundation has launched a nationwide campaign to improve health literacy among Americans. A steering committee of health literacy researchers and policy experts is developing program objectives, strategies, and activities for a two- to three-year campaign. Seven corporate sponsors who have provided program-planning grants are funding the program, titled "Partnership in Health — Improving the Patient-Physician Relationship through Health Literacy." The goals and objectives of the program will be announced this month at the Annual Meeting of the AMA House of Delegates.
"We are living at a time when the amount of health information available to us is almost overwhelming. Yet most Americans would be shocked at the number of their friends and neighbors who can’t understand the instructions on their prescription bottle or understand how to prepare for a simple medical procedure," says William H. Mahood, MD, FACP, president of the AMA Foundation.
The AMA Foundation offers a health literacy kit that includes a video showing a series of vignettes of people affected by health illiteracy, fact sheets, a discussion guide, and a questionnaire for CME credit. The kit is a self-study program that shows how literacy problems extend across racial, educational, and socioeconomic backgrounds. The purpose of the initiative is to bridge the communication gap between physicians and patients.
The video shows how patients struggle to understand instructions. One patient featured is a mother who guessed at the appropriate dosage of Children’s Tylenol for her children because she couldn’t read the instructions. Her guess was equivalent to eight adult doses.
To order a copy of the Health Literacy Introduction Kit, contact Georgianne Cooper at the AMA at (312) 464-5563.