AHRQ recently published the Health Literacy Universal Precautions Toolkit. The toolkit is based on the principal of universal precautions, or specific actions that providers can take to make health information more understandable for all patients. Over a third of patients have limited health literacy, which results in their not understanding what they need to do to take care of their health. Limited health literacy is associated with poor management of chronic diseases, poor ability to understand and adhere to medication regimes, increased hospitalizations, and poor health outcomes.
Health literacy universal precautions are needed because providers don't always know which patients have limited health literacy. This toolkit is designed to help adult and pediatric practices ensure that systems are in place to promote better understanding by all patients, not just those providers think need extra assistance. The toolkit, (http://www.ahrq.gov/qual/literacy), developed for AHRQ by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, includes:
- A Quick Start Guide.
- Path to Improvement (6 steps to implement toolkit).
- 20 short tools to identify and address areas needing improvement.
- Links to Internet resources.
- An appendix with resources to support implementation, such as sample forms, posters, PowerPoint presentations, and worksheets.
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