Tag Archives: Health Literacy

Health Literacy: an issue for life

To make good decisions about our health, we need to find, understand, appraise and apply health information.  This is the essence of good health literacy.

 

What is the issue?

Levels of health literacy in England are very low: 43% of working age adults cannot understand textual health information, rising to 61% when a numeracy element is added (1); and 43% adults are unable to calculate paracetamol dosage for a child based on age and weight (2).  Individual health literacy also varies.  If someone has just had a significant diagnosis, then their ability to comprehend information will be reduced.

As people live longer with multiple health conditions, they need to be able to make the treatment choices that are right for them, and to understand how to use self-management techniques or take medications.

 

What role for health library staff?

Working with patients and the public takes different forms within NHS library and knowledge services.  All depend upon library and knowledge services staff having the confidence to see how core skills in finding evidence and appraising sources apply to health information materials for patients and the public.  Supporting the health literacy awareness of colleagues, and identifying information resources of differing levels of complexity, can enable library and knowledge services to have an impact on the way that patient information materials are used.  This supports treatment choice and effective self-management of health conditions.  For this reason, health literacy is a priority for Knowledge for Healthcare work on patient and public information in 2018-2020

Library personnel in education and public library sectors are keen to collaborate on health literacy, as the information literacy and digital literacy skills that they promote feed into health literacy. Whereas good information literacy in education may be seen as a short-term benefit for coursework, health literacy is a life skill.

 

What next?

In 2018-19 we will be offering training on health literacy awareness and accredited “train the trainer” training for health library and knowledge services staff in England, which can be used as the basis of training for NHS staff and partner organisations, including public libraries.

In the meantime, resources are available to increase your awareness of health literacy issues, with tools that you can use.  Working with NHS England, Public Health England and the Community Health and Learning Foundation, Health Education England has developed a health literacy toolkit, including case studies and a “how to” guide https://www.hee.nhs.uk/our-work/health-literacy .

If you have ideas, questions or would like to be involved in shaping health literacy activity, contact Ruth.Carlyle@hee.nhs.uk

Ruth Carlyle

References

  • Rowlands, G. et al. A mismatch between population health literacy and the complexity of health information: an observational study. British Journal of General Practice Jun;65(635):e379-86. doi: 10.3399/bjgp15X685285. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26009533
  • Mayor, S. 2012. Nearly half adults in England don’t understand health information, study indicates. British Medical Journal 345:e8364 https://www.bmj.com/content/345/bmj.e8364

Update from HEE LKS Leads

A few points of feedback for LKS managers and teams from the meeting of the HEE Library and Knowledge Service Leads Group on 26 February:

  • Developing and making the case for an equitable funding model for NHS LKS is a current high priority. We hope to be able to engage with Trusts on our proposals during this year.
  • With the Department of Health, we are currently negotiating extension of the CLA Licence Plus for the NHS in England for a further five years from April 2018.
  • With NICE, we are progressing re-procurement of a new national core content collection from April 2019, and also exploring options for extended collaborative purchasing of e-resources. Our thinking informed by feedback from the 90% plus LKS teams who responded to our survey and provided information about local investment in e-resources – thank you!
  • Work continues on development of the new national LKS quality assurance process, which will feature a much reduced number of quality standards with associated evidence requirements, and graded levels of attainment. The process will be piloted by a small number of LKS this year.
  • Building on the work to date within the Knowledge for Healthcare Public and Patient Information work stream, it has been agreed that the role of health librarians in supporting health literacy will be the focus of this work stream for the next two years. A blog post about this will follow shortly.
  • The Workforce Planning and Development work stream has identified CPD priorities for the LKS workforce for the next two years, drawing on feedback from recent development needs analyses and a review of strategic priorities. Meanwhile, we are submitting a response about the healthcare LKS workforce to the consultation on ‘Facing the Facts, Shaping the Future’ (the draft national workforce strategy for health and care for England to 2027).
  • Three more STEP literature searching e-learning modules are now available, and a new set of knowledge management e-learning modules are in development, with the design of the knowledge management postcards being refreshed to match.
  • More #AMillionDecisions social media cards are being created, featuring quotes about the role of library knowledge specialists from senior national NHS leads. An HEE LKS presence at June’s NHS Confederation Conference will provide a further opportunity for high level advocacy, and we are delighted that a number of Knowledge for Healthcare-related papers have been accepted for this year’s HLG and EAHIL conferences.

If you have comments or queries relating to this bulletin, please contact your HEE LKS Lead.

Health Education England collaborates with library and reading experts to improve patient choice

Health Education England (HEE) has signed a memorandum of understanding with leading organisations in the library and reading arena in a bid to promote greater and more personalised healthcare literacy across the population.

 

HEE will work with the Society of Chief Librarians and The Reading Agency to promote the importance of health literacy. The three organisations will work together to devise and launch programmes that allow people to access personalised information that allows them to make more informed choices about their care and treatment and improve the quality of their life.

 

The Society of Chief Librarians leads and manages public libraries in England, Wales and Northern Ireland and advocates continuous improvement in the library service. Its membership is made up of heads of service at each library authority.

 

The Reading Agency is a national charity inspiring people of all ages and all backgrounds to read for pleasure and empowerment. Working with partners, their aim is to make reading accessible to everyone.

 

The provision of high quality, evidence-based, accessible health information is an important driver in HEE’s Knowledge for Healthcare Framework for NHS library and knowledge services, published in 2015. The framework was developed to enable NHS bodies, staff, learners, patients and the public to use the right knowledge and evidence at the right time and place to enable better clinical decision-making.

 

Patrick Mitchell, Director, South of England, Health Education England said:

“I am delighted to sign the Memorandum of Understanding with the Society of Chief Librarians and The Reading Agency. It is a very positive step towards collaborating across sectors to underpin health literacy, ensuring people can access high quality information to assist them to make informed choices about their care and treatment.”

 

Sue Wilkinson, Chief Executive of The Reading Agency, commented:

“It is with great pleasure that we are able to formalise this important new partnership with Health Education England. We look forward to using the MOU to activate an exciting programme of activity supporting our shared work with the Society of Chief Librarians on Reading Well and the Universal Health Offer as well as HEE’s ambitions for the delivery of Patient and Public Information.”

 

Neil MacInnes, President of The Society of Librarians, added:

“It’s wonderful news that SCL and The Reading Agency’s work with HEE has now been formally ratified. Our partnership will strengthen the delivery of Reading Well and the Universal Health Offer through public libraries – keeping people in our communities active and engaged as we continue to support their health and wellbeing.”

 

For further information contact louise.goswami@nhs.net or Ruth.Carlyle@hee.nhs.uk