Incorporating Health Literacy Screening Into Patients’ Health Assessment

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Abstract

Low health literacy (HL) has been associated with several negative health outcomes, yet routine HL screening is not commonplace. This study’s purpose was to determine the feasibility of incorporating HL screening into the electronic health record (EHR) of patients admitted to a large Mid-Atlantic teaching hospital. After Registered Nurse (RN) training, the HL screening was implemented for all adult patients upon admission. After implementation, RNs were surveyed about the feasibility of HL screening, and patient EHRs were reviewed for HL status. Results indicated that RNs were receptive to HL screening. Approximately 20% of all patients screened were at risk for low HL, with HL scores decreasing as age increased. Patients with low HL had significantly higher hospital readmissions, even when controlling for age and number of health conditions. Further research is needed to determine how healthcare providers alter their patient interactions if they have knowledge that patients are at risk for having low HL.

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