Health Literacy and Palliative Care


Workshop Summary
As a health educator, I can’t tell you how thrilled I am to see the publication of this Workshop summary. In July 2015, the Round Table on Health Literacy convened a special panel of experts from around the country to focus on communication issues regarding palliative care.

Communicating about Palliative Care
Palliative care is so difficult to discuss, let alone write about. It’s such a sensitive issue. Add to that complications of literacy and there are huge portions of the population that have not been able to gain usable access to this information.

Here are some highlights:

  • Communicating Prognosis
  • Serious Illness Communication Program
  • Helping Patients Navigate Difficult Decisions
  • Bringing Spiritual Care into Palliative Care
  • Teaching Communication Skills to Professionals

They also include different perspectives

  • Family Caregivers
  • Social Workers
  • Nurses

Dr. Diane Meier’s overview
I especially liked Diane Meier‘s overview presentation and her clear theory-meets-action approach. She outlines the case for palliative care (no hard sell) but also highlights the many areas where health literacy issues get in the way of what patients want from their practitioners.

As Meier notes, “Literacy and palliative care intersect at the question ‘What is most important?'” Her case studies are completely on target and point out that the literacy issues are a problem of the system, not the patient/family.

The good news is, we can fix the system!

You can download the Workshop summary for free at the National Academy Press. (You’ll need to create an account, but it’s worth it. I love receiving notices of the latest publications. That’s how I found out about this gem!)