Health and Literacy in Rutherford County

Aug 23, 2011 at 11:22 am by bryan

Health and literacy. The connection between these two words may not be immediately apparent, but the connection is vital. Health and literacy are intrinsically linked; their relationship represents a deeply-rooted issue in the medical world, one that deserves careful attention. Among elderly people, the evidence suggests that those with low health literacy have generally poorer health and die sooner, and more than a third of adult Americans have trouble understanding even basic medical information.

On Thursday, Read To Succeed, Middle Tennessee Medical Center, and Primary Care & Hope Clinic will focus on these issues at a Health and Literacy Forum, open to all local medical professionals or interested community members. The forum will last from 11:30 am to 1 pm in the Meeting Room at MTMC, with lunch provided to those who RSVP to or 615-738-READ. Pharmacist Shane Reeves, physician Utpal Patel and educator Penny Myers will lead a discussion on identifying the signs of a low-literacy-level patient, how to support that patient, and how to improve literacy in our community.

Health literacy is the notion that a person is able to obtain, understand, and act on information provided about a health issue or prescribed medication. Low or limited health literacy can result in a patient's misunderstanding of a diagnosis or treatment options, medication errors, or poor health outcomes in general. Providing quality health information is not enough. The ability to read—and understand—is necessary in order to make decisions and take action.

At the first Read To Succeed Health and Literacy Forum this past spring, held at Primary Care & Hope Clinic, the attendance exceeded the location’s capacity by dozens. The interest generated by both health providers and educators showed a distinctive need for several more of these events.  

"Read To Succeed has begun offering Health and Literacy Forums to showcase the important issue of literacy as it affects not only one's education and career performance, but also how it impacts other aspects of life, including health,” says Shelly Stanley, Read To Succeed’s Adult Literacy coordinator. “Many of the learners in our one-on-one Adult Tutoring program have expressed difficultly in handling forms, insurance, preventative care, and especially emergency medical issues because of their lack of reading and writing ability. RTS is striving to educate health care providers to better serve these individuals, while also equipping these individuals to better function in the health care community."

Read To Succeed plans to hold these forums throughout the year—the next will likely be held in North Rutherford County.

If you’re interested in attending Thursday’s forum at MTMC, please e-mail or call 615-738-READ to RSVP.
Sections: News