Symposium aims to improve understanding of health information

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One-third of Americans are in serious danger of misinterpreting information they need to stay healthy, according to a national study. They may be struggling to get by, or accomplished and well-educated. But they’re not well-equipped to understand health information.

On the other side of the stethoscope, health care providers may lack experience translating their technical knowledge into an action plan for a patient with a busy life.

To help medical professionals improve health literacy, the UNT Health Science Center in Fort Worth and its Center for Community Health are hosting the Third Annual Health Literacy Symposium with the theme “Providers as Leaders.”

On May 19, physicians, nurses, clergy and others will hold cooperative, interprofessional sessions to help health care providers communicate better with patients. Keynote speaker will be Michael Paasche-Orlow, MD, a Boston University School of Medicine health-literacy expert.

A special focus of the symposium will be ethical issues in helping patients make informed decisions about end-of-life care. In one session, the audience will participate in a review of an actual case in which a very ill 82-year-old woman and her daughter are deciding between hospitalization and hospice.

Among other topics will be putting the right providers in mobile health clinics and the team approach to caring for patients. Local, regional and national experts will make presentations.

“Our goal is to provide health literacy techniques so that patients are full participants in the decisions that improve their health,” said CCH Associate Director Kim Linnear.

Symposium sponsors include United Way of Tarrant County and its Area Agency on Aging, BlueCross and BlueShield of Texas, Texas Health Resources and UNT Health Science Center.  A light breakfast and lunch will be provided, and CME credit will be available for various health professionals.

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