Foundation hosts first Health Literacy meeting

The DFW Hospital Council Foundation hosted its first Health Literacy Collaborative Committee meeting on October 23 at its main offices in Irving. The forum was attended by 22 people representing hospitals and schools in North Texas.

The Committee was created for the purpose of inspiring a health literate culture in North Texas with a goal of establishing leadership and research.

Health literacy is the degree to which a community has the capacity to understand basic health information and services in order to make appropriate health decisions. Health literacy is dependent upon the communication skills of lay persons and professionals, affecting a person’s ability to navigate their healthcare, including filling out forms and locating providers.

“Only 12 percent of adults have proficient health literacy,” said Patti Taylor, the Foundation’s director of quality and patient safety and the coordinator of the committee. “In other words, nearly nine out of ten adults may lack the skills needed to manage their health and prevent disease.”

According to the National Assessment of Adult Literacy, populations most likely to experience low health literacy are older adults, racial and ethnic minorities, people with less than a high school degree or GED certificate, people with low income levels, non-native speakers of English and people with compromised health status.

“The primary responsibility for improving health literacy lies with public health professionals and the healthcare and public health systems,” Taylor said. “This committee is an opportunity for all of us to work together to ensure that health information and services can be understood and used by all Americans.”

Dr. Teresa Wagner, an assistant professor at the UNT Health Science Center, was voted as the committee chair person. In addition, three workgroups were formed including Needs Assessment, to be led by Catherine McMains, community health specialist at Texas Health Resources; the Tool Kit group led by Brennan Lewis, director of patient education and engagement at Children’s Health; and Research, led by Carol Howe, assistant professor at the TCU Harris College of Nursing.

For information, please contact Patti Taylor at [email protected].

Health Literacy Collaborative Committee meeting on Oct. 23.