Health Literacy is about how people understand information about health and health care, and how they use that information to make decisions and manage their health. Health literacy also involves how health practitioners design and deliver health services1. This paper presents one component of a broader project aimed at finding out how the multidisiciplinary team at Prince of Wales Hospital (POW) Diabetes Centre identify and respond to the health literacy needs of patient with type 2 diabetes. People from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds are the primary focus.
23 semi-structured interviews were conducted with patients by researchers from the University of Technology Sydney. The interviews focused on how well the patients thought they managed their diabetes, what resources they accessed, including social support from others and feedback on the information provided by the staff (verbal and written).
From the interviews 23 case scenarios were developed. At a monthly meeting one of these case studies are reviewed and analysed. Discussions begin by using the Ophelia Health Literacy Questionnaire scale2 to identify how well the person in the case study is managing their diabetes, and then discussion focuses on identifying strategies to improve patient outcomes. For example, one case scenario highlighted how staff needed to develop strategies and tools to help patients during Ramadan. Another highlighted the need to utilise teach-back to ensure client understanding. A third case study highlighted the importance of providing consistent information to patients.
In conclusion the case scenarios have allowed staff to develop a better understanding of health literacy needs of patients, generate practice wisdoms based on patient experiences and developed actions plans. A resource with the case scenarios is available for other diabetes services to review and reflect on health literacy within their clinical setting.