Health literacy, the degree to which individuals have the capacity to obtain, process, and understand health information and services needed to make health decisions, is an essential element for early adults (aged 18-44 years) to make informed decisions about cancer. Low health literacy is one of the social determinants of health associated with cancer-related disparities. Over the past several years, a nonprofit organization, a university, and a cancer center in a major urban environment have developed and implemented health literacy programs within healthcare systems and in the community. Health system personnel received extensive health literacy training to reduce medical jargon and improve their patient education using plain language easy-to-understand written materials and teach-back, and also designed plain language written materials including visuals to provide more culturally and linguistically appropriate health education and enhance web-based information. Several sustainable health system policy changes occurred over time. At the community level, organizational assessments and peer leader training on health literacy have occurred to reduce communication barriers between consumers and providers. Some of these programs have been cancer specific, including consumer education in such areas as cervical cancer, skin cancer, and breast cancer that are targeted to early adults across the cancer spectrum from prevention to treatment to survivorship. An example of consumer-driven health education that was tested for health literacy using a comic book-style photonovel on breast cancer with an intergenerational family approach for Chinese Americans is provided. Key lessons learned from the health literacy initiatives and overall conclusions of the health literacy initiatives are also summarized.
Recommended CitationSimmons, Robert; Cosgrove, Susan C.; Romney, Martha C.; Plumb, James D.; Brawer, Rickie O.; Gonzalez, Evelyn T.; Fleisher, Linda G.; and Moore, Bradley S, "Health Literacy: Cancer Prevention Strategies for Early Adults." (2017). College of Population Health Faculty Papers. Paper 78.
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