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Health information and services are often unfamiliar, complicated, and technical, even for people with higher levels of education. People of all ages, races, incomes, and education levels, not just people with limited reading skills or people for whom English is a second language, are affected by limited health literacy. According to research from the U.S. Department of Education, only 12 percent of English-speaking adults in the United States have proficient health literacy skills. The impact of limited health literacy disproportionately affects lower socioeconomic and minority groups. Research also indicates that nearly 9 out of 10 adults have difficulty using the everyday health information in health care facilities, retail outlets, media and communities. Without clear information and an understanding of prevention and self-management of conditions, people are more likely to skip necessary medical tests, end up in the emergency room more often and have difficulty managing chronic diseases, such as diabetes or high blood pressure.
In his presentation, Dr. Michael Paasche-Orlow will critically examine the definition of health literacy, present data on the prevalence of limited health literacy, review the relationship between limited health literacy and health outcomes, describe some of the causal pathways linking health literacy to health outcomes, exhibit how these relationships lead to health disparities, and discuss some of the responses that are warranted.
Dr. Michael Paasche-Orlow is Associate Professor of Medicine at the Boston University School of Medicine. He is a general internist and a nationally recognized expert in the field of health literacy. Dr. Paasche-Orlow is also the Associate Chief for Research for the Section of General Internal Medicine at Boston Medical Center and the Associate Program Director for the Boston University School of Medicine General Internal Medicine Academic Post-Doctoral Fellowship Program. He earned a medical degree from Albert Einstein school of medicine, an MA from The Jewish Theological Seminary of America and an MPH from the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health. He completed a fellowship in internal medicine from the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.
Michael Paasche-Orlow, MD, MA, MPH, Boston University School of Medicine