Purpose In recent years, there has been a public health emphasis on improving health literacy and education to increase patients' understanding of health and disease. While completing a Rural/Urban Underserved Opportunities (R/UOP) preceptorship in White Salmon, a project was developed aimed at promoting health education in the community. In creating this project, the following goals were set: increase general health knowledge in the community, with an emphasis on preventative care, create a sustainable medium for health education, and teach patients to find reliable health information on the internet.
Methods These goals were accomplished through a preventative health newsletter distributed in the local newspaper. The topics for articles emerged after consultations with the physicians and public health nurse about important local health issues, and from observations made in the clinic.
Results Although there was no formal assessment of the effectiveness of this project because of time constraints in the community, evaluations of similar projects have demonstrated that effective dissemination of preventative health education results in a decreased incidence of accident and disease. Anecdotal information from the focused community for this project indicated that the information provided was well received. A review of the literature revealed that patients with better health literacy and those who understand their disease process more thoroughly have better health outcomes.
Conclusions Newsletters, brochures, patient education materials, as well as a variety of online medical information sources, are all important resources for patients. They can be helpful supplements to patient-physician communication on health promotion and disease prevention. Providers and public health workers can improve health literacy by collaborating to produce patient education materials written at an appropriate literacy level and providing pertinent information on particular health subjects.
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