Back to Top Skip to main content Skip to sub-navigation

Health literacy focuses on empowering patients to engage in their care

Image of Medical personnel, wearing a mask, inserting an IV into a patient. Michelle Pribble, Naval Medical Center San Diego's (NMCSD) lead nuclear medicine technologist, administers an IV to a patient before a positron emission tomography (PET) scan in the hospital's Nuclear Medicine Department. Active communication between patient and provider is a cornerstone of health literacy. (Photo by Navy Seaman Luke Cunningham.)

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness

Helping patients and caregivers understand the information they receive from their health care team reduces potential miscommunication and can improve the patient care experience. Although October is officially Health Literacy Month, it's always important to make sure patients and their caregivers understand health care information so they can make informed decisions about their care.

A common misconception is that health literacy is only the patient’s or caregiver’s responsibility. It’s not, explained Julie Kinn, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist with the Defense Health Agency’s Connected Health Branch.

“It’s incumbent on the health care team to double-check that patients and their caregivers understand instructions, terminology, and important factors to help with decision-making,” she said.

Health literacy is the ability to understand health care information.

Care teams give a lot of information to patients and their caregivers, but if it’s difficult to understand, then it’s just wasting time for the beneficiaries and their providers, added Kinn. Health literacy covers how heath care teams share information with patients and their families, including instructions for how and when to take medication and how to manage symptoms. Implications can be far-reaching when patients or their families don’t understand their medical care, or when they seek preventive care, attempt to adopt healthy behaviors, complete insurance and medical forms, or manage chronic conditions, according to the Health Resources & Services Administration.  

“In more extreme examples, consider serious health care decisions,” said Kinn. “How can our patients and their families decide between options if the options are presented in a confusing way?”

In today’s busy health care environment, some providers may feel pressed for time, but patient-centered care requires health care professionals to take a more thoughtful approach. “Although internally we may feel a clock ticking, it’s important to demonstrate to patients and their families that we have time to answer their questions,” Kinn said.

Given what’s at stake, patients should not feel shy about understanding their own health care.

“Be assertive and take notes,” she said. “Although your health care team may be rushed, please ask when something is confusing or if a word is unfamiliar.”

Bottom line: All patients should feel empowered to take the time they need, in order to ensure they have the information to understand medical instructions given by their care team, and make informed decisions.

For patients willing to take the initiative to empower themselves with medical knowledge or information on their health, Kinn urges them to ask their doctor or nurse for specific recommendations on websites or resources instead of just searching online. “The Military Health System provides comprehensive information, but there are many other great resources online. Just make sure that it’s a trustworthy source written by experts,” she added.

“You are worth it!” Kinn emphasized.

You also may be interested in...

MHS refractive surgery experts discuss warfighter readiness

Article
1/13/2021
Image of Mr. McCaffery looking at a monitor with an eye on it. Click to open a larger version of the image.

Refractive surgery is any surgery that eliminates the need for glasses or contact lenses.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | | Readiness Capabilities

DOD Launches “My MilLife Guide” Text Message Program to Boost Wellness

Article
1/11/2021
The new My MilLife Guide program supports the wellness of the military community.

DoD has launched My MilLife Guide, a new program that sends text messages designed to help the military community boost overall wellness while navigating stresses related to COVID-19.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | Public Health | Total Force Fitness | Health Readiness

MSMR Vol. 28 No. 01 - January 2021

Report
1/1/2021

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Attrition rates and incidence of mental health disorders in an attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) cohort, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2014–2018; The prevalence of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and ADHD medication treatment in active component service members, U.S. Armed Forces, 2014–2018; Exertional rhabdomyolysis and sickle cell trait status in the U.S. Air Force, January 2009–December 2018.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Public Health

AFHSD’s GEIS collect data worldwide to support force protection

Article
12/22/2020
Medical personnel scanning forehead of soldier with thermometer

AFHSD/GEIS continue work with partners across the globe in their efforts to combat COVID-19 and protect military readiness.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Public Health | Coronavirus | Environmental Exposures | Global Health Engagement | Armed Forces Health Surveillance Division | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts | Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine

Deputy defense secretary stresses team approach in battling COVID

Article
12/10/2020
Soldier wearing mask, standing at computer monitors in an office building

The Military Health System has played an important role implementing the National Defense Strategy, Norquist said.

Recommended Content:

Military Health System Transformation | Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts | Health Readiness | Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine

USAMRIID scientist recognized by French for distinguished service

Article
12/4/2020
Two military officers on stage; one handing the other a certificate

Kugelman...identified genetic markers of persistence of the Chikungunya virus.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Research and Innovation | Health Care Technology

Seven MTFs recognized by ACS for surgical care

Article
12/3/2020
Military surgeons in an operating room

The MHS hospitals were among 89 recognized facilities and 607 total military and civilian hospitals participating in the program.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Quality and Safety of Health Care (for Health Care Professionals) | Clinical Quality Management

New report finds military hearing health is improving

Article
12/3/2020
Military doctor inspecting patient's ear

Noise-induced hearing loss is decreasing for active-duty service members.

Recommended Content:

Combat Support | Health Readiness | Hearing and Balance Injuries | Hearing Center of Excellence

DGMC medical study looks at plant-based diet

Article
12/3/2020
Man wearing mask and gloves putting container of salad into salad bar

Researchers measured important cholesterol, weight and blood pressure markers at baseline and at 4-weeks.

Recommended Content:

Combat Support | Health Readiness | Nutritional Fitness

Navy Corpsman helps maintain USS Albany readiness

Article
12/2/2020
Soldier wearing a stethoscope on a submarine

Navy Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Matthew Carter is currently serving aboard Albany as an IDC.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Readiness Capabilities

MSMR Vol. 27 No. 12 - December 2020

Report
12/1/2020

A monthly publication of the Armed Forces Health Surveillance Branch. This issue of the peer-reviewed journal contains the following articles: Cases of coronavirus disease 2019 and comorbidities among Military Health System beneficiaries, 1 January 2020 through 30 September 2020; Characteristics of U.S. Army beneficiary cases of COVID-19 in Europe, 12 March 2020–17 April 2020; Air evacuation of service members for COVID-19 in U.S. Central Command and U.S. European Command from 11 March 2020 through 30 September 2020; SARS-CoV-2 and influenza coinfection in a deployed military setting— Two case reports.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Public Health

METC improves surgical tech training with new laparoscopy standard

Article
12/1/2020
Surgical team in operating room

A laparoscopy is a low-risk, non-invasive surgical procedure used to examine organs inside the abdomen and repair or remove tissue.

Recommended Content:

Combat Support | Health Readiness | Research and Innovation | Health Care Technology

BAMC recognized by American College of Surgeons for outstanding care

Article
11/27/2020
Medical team, wearing masks, rushing a patient in a hospital bed down the hallway

“BAMC provides more complex care to the nation than any other military treatment facility..."

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness | Combat Support | Clinical Quality Management | Quality and Safety of Health Care (for Health Care Professionals) | Readiness Capabilities

Air Force doctor retires after 48 years of service

Article
11/20/2020
Uniformed officer standing next to an Air Force seal, wearing a stethoscope around his shoulders

In his civilian career, Thomas maintains a private practice as an anesthesiologist in Fairbanks, Alaska.

Recommended Content:

Public Health | Health Readiness

WRNMMC displays the “Art of Healing” through December

Article
11/13/2020
Woman wearing mask, standing in front of several paintings

[T]he main focus of the exhibit was the art on display, and the artists behind it.

Recommended Content:

Health Readiness |
<< < ... 6 7 8 9 10  ... > >> 
Showing results 76 - 90 Page 6 of 34
Refine your search
Last Updated: July 09, 2021

DHA Address: 7700 Arlington Boulevard | Suite 5101 | Falls Church, VA | 22042-5101

Some documents are presented in Portable Document Format (PDF). A PDF reader is required for viewing. Download a PDF Reader or learn more about PDFs.