The Decline in Literacy Rates in The United States 2021
It is your first day on the job as a doctor, fresh out of medical school, and you are with your first patient. The patient is a trauma victim and you, along with your team, is working steadily to get the patient steady and responsive. A few hours go by and the patient's family comes to visit, you try to talk to the patient but they are looking at you with a confused look because of the medical jargon you used. So you attempt to ‘dumb’ it down for the pateint and their family. A few months go by and you are called by Human Resources stating that a few months ago you talked to a patient like something was mentality impaired, all because you did not understand the importance of patient literacy.
The United States has been known for many years for having the best colleges, but little did the people know that the average literacy rate in the United States ranges from seventh to eighth grade (the Condition of Education). Literacy can be defined as one’s ability to read and write (Aldo, et al ,54). North Carolina, as a state, has a literacy rate of around 86.4 percent; while the average literacy level of high school students is barely above the fifth grade level. As more and more studies are conducted, Google decided to remove their “reading level search filter” has been removed, but one can visit Google Scholars (Gutierrez, N., Kindratt, T.B., Pagels, P. et al , 82). Mainstream media such as: Google, Yahoo.com, Facebook Post, textbooks, Newspaper , and magazines are written at a fifth to seventh grade level. One can determine their reading level by attempting to read books from elementary to college to a medical level; this will help them try to comprehend and explain to another what they read (Aldo, et al, 92). As the newer generations begin to prevail their reading level will increase because they do not have to deal with hardships that the older generations went through.
Healthcare is one of the main problems when it comes to literacy because of health literacy. Health literacy, according to the Health Resources & Service Administration, is the ability to understand, obtain, and read medical information. According to Image 1, one half of adults have a low health literacy which means they need medical information explained to them at an easier and
https://www.healthwise.org/blog/health-literacy-and-patient-education.aspx (“Image 1” )
elementary level, but not spoken to like they are lower than a medical worker (“Understanding Health Literacy.”). When working in healthcare, employers do not take in consideration that some patients do not speak english, dropped out or had to provide for their family in the third grade, and some have medical impairments that make it hard for them to understand.
Prior to context above, health literacy is a main issue in health because English may not be a person’s language and as a healthcare work that can be considered selfish. A patient’s literacy level can determine what type of health quality they receive because they do not understand (“Health Literacy-Not All Patient Education Is Created Equal). Healthcare workers have to put the patient first and try to understand how him or her should explain a situation to a patient, instead of brushing it off (Gutierrez, N., Kindratt, T.B., Pagels, P. et al, 89). Hearing aids, interepurts, approved family, braille, and workers can help a patient out by thoroughly explaining and using charts, graphs, and companionship (“Health Literacy-Not All Patient Education Is Created Equal).
After the call from Human Resources, you did a lot of research to improve your understanding of patient literacy, more importantly health literacy. Realizing that not every patient has a college education, some only have a fifth grade leveling and some dropped out in third grade, during the olden times. Some patients are audioly impaired and that there are levels to health literacy and that the use of charts, visuals, and being understanding can really help a patient understand.
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Gutierrez, N., Kindratt, T.B., Pagels, P. et al. Health Literacy, Health Information Seeking
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“Understanding Health Literacy.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 12 Jan. 2021, www.cdc.gov/healthliteracy/learn/Understanding.html.