Talking the Talk: Enhancing Clinical Ethics with Health Literacy Best Practices

HEC Forum:1-23 (forthcoming)

Authors
Jamie Watson
Young Harris College
Abstract
A significant proportion of the U.S. population exhibits low health literacy. Evidence suggests that low health literacy is correlated with higher medical costs and poorer health outcomes. Even more concerning, evidence suggests that low health literacy threatens patients’ and families’ autonomy and exacerbates injustices in patients who are already vulnerable to difficulties navigating the health care system. There is also, however, increasing evidence that health literacy interventions—including initiatives such as plain language practices and teach-back—improve comprehension and usefulness of health care information. I show how health literacy best practices can enhance the work of clinical ethicists in their primary roles of policy, consultation, and education. In the final section, I suggest ways health literacy initiatives may be enhanced with insights from clinical ethicists.
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DOI 10.1007/s10730-019-09369-5
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