- Open Access
Promoting patient comprehension of relevant health information
© The Author(s). 2018
- Received: 21 August 2018
- Accepted: 28 August 2018
- Published: 18 September 2018
The original article was published in Israel Journal of Health Policy Research 2018 7:50
Patient understanding of health care recommendations provided by health care professionals is essential to enabling active and informed patient participation in care. Unfortunately, evidence suggests that patients often seriously misunderstand relevant health information provided to them, leading to errant patient decisions about their care. This commentary examines key communication factors that influence patient understanding and argues for a comprehensive approach to assessing and promoting patient comprehension.
- Health communication
- Health literacy
- Patient comprehension
- Teach back method
It is important to recognize the complexities of effective communication between health care providers and their patients, and to make certain that studies of patient comprehension of relevant health information are valid. The Shiber, Zuker-Herman, Drescher, and Glezerman study provides a good starting point for programmatic research about patient comprehension of relevant health information by examining the levels of patient confidence in understanding their care plans . The next step in this program of research is to examine patients’ actual levels of understanding. It will be interesting to compare patient estimates of comprehension about their care plans with their actual understanding about these care plans. This program of expanded patient comprehension research has great potential to guide development of important health communication programs, policies, and tools that can enhance quality of care and improve health outcomes.
The author read and approved the final manuscript.
Gary L. Kreps is a University Distinguished Professor and Director of the Center for Health and Risk Communication at George Mason University. He formerly served as the founding Chief of the Health Communication and Informatics Research Branch at the National Cancer Institute, founding Dean of the School of Communication at Hofstra University, and Executive Director of the Greenspun School of Communication at UNLV.
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