Patient Literacy and Response to Oral Instructions and Nursing Education

Nurses Educator 2

 Oral Instructions and Patient Literacy Response to Nursing Education

Patient Literacy and Response to Oral Instructions and Nursing Education

 Literacy Relative to Oral Instructions, Literacy Relative to Computer Instructions, Role of Telecommunication and Patient Instructions In Nursing Education, Use of Computers and Software for Patient Instruction, Use of Smart Phone and Mobile Applications.

Literacy Relative to Oral Instructions

    The inability to understand the spoken word or oral instruction above the level of understanding simple words, phrases, and slang words should be considered an important element in the definition or assessment of literacy. Most health information can be provided verbally, and many clients prefer to learn in a face-to-face encounter (Morrow et al., 2007). However, oral instruction alone is not a very successful method of teaching. “Written information is better re-membered and leads to better treatment adherence” (Kessels, 2003, p. 221).

    Doak, Doak, and Root (1985) address the fact that there is no universally accepted way to test the degree of difficulty with oral language. However, as these authors observe, “It is believed that some of the same characteristics that are critical for written materials will also affect the comprehensibility of spoken language” (p. 40). Much more research needs to be done on “iloralacy,” or the inability to understand simple oral language, as a generic concept of illiteracy (Hirsch, 2001; Zarcadoolas et al., 2006).

Literacy Relative to Computer Instructions

    The literacy issue has traditionally been examined from the standpoint of readability and comprehension of printed materials. The use of computer technology has emerged as an increasingly popular way to present information, making it an important dimension of the literacy issue. To a much greater extent, educators and consumers are relying on computers as educational tools, transforming the way healthcare information is accessed and shared. Clients who are well educated and career oriented are likely to own a computer and be computer literate. 

    It is important to assess and accommodate those with limited resources, literacy skills. and technological know-how so they are not left behind (Merriam & Bierema, 2014; Zarcadoolas et al., 2006).Computers not only are used to convey instructional messages, but they also serve as valuable tools for accessing a wide array of additional sources of health information. However, clients may not have the skills necessary to assess the quality and validity of the information they discover. 

    This new concern speaks not only to having skills to use the computer but skills to know how to assess and use the information found (Landry, 2015). This is called web or information literacy, which is “how well the client can assess the accuracy, reliability, and validity of various web sources” (Merriam & Bierema, 2014, p. 201).

Role of Telecommunication and Patient Instructions In Nursing Education

    The opportunity to expand clients' knowledge base through telecommunications and virtual resources requires nurse educators to attend to computer literacy levels of their audiences. In the same way that they now recognize the negative effects that illiteracy and low literacy have had on restricting the information base of consumers of health care when printed materials are relied upon, nurses must begin to advocate for computer literacy in the public they serve (Doak et al., 1996; Moore, Bias, Prentice, Fletcher, & Vaughn, 2009). 

Use of Computers and Software for Patient Instruction 

    Computer software programs can be made suitable for use by low literate learners if these individuals have the basic capacity to access and operate computers and the information is simplified for readability and comprehension (Egbert & Nanna, 2009).The concept of e-health and informatics has grown globally to encompass use of the Internet and other virtual resources, such as telehealth and electronic health records, for the delivery and organization of care. 

Use of Smart Phone and Mobile Applications

    Patients also are using smartphone applications, text reminders, blogs or online communities, and health websites to manage their health (Landry, 2015). This innovative approach requires that patients have additional skills to communicate with healthcare providers and understand their treatment plan. Thus, electronic health literacy must be an additional concern to the nurse. 

    Norman and Skinner (2006a) define e-health literacy as “the ability to seek, find, understand, and appraise health information from electronic sources and apply the knowledge gained to addressing or solving a health problem” (para. 6).These authors draw attention to the knowledge and complex skill set that is often taken for granted when people interact with technology to access and share information. 

    Nurses now must focus their attention on learning and usability issues, whether it begins in an acute care setting or at the population health level. E-health tools include digital resources designed to help patients, consumers, and caregivers find health information, store and manage their personal health information, make decisions, and manage their health (CDC, 2009).

    The use of e-health tools and interventions by healthcare professionals and patients appears to hold promise for increasing transparency and expanding both parties' knowledge base. Like health literacy, however, e-health literacy levels are complex and can change based on technological advances. 

    Therefore, undertaking an assessment of not only health literacy but also e-health literacy is an important action the nurse can take to determine whether the use of technology will be useful or detrimental to the client's understanding of health information (Brega et al., 2015 ; Collins, Currie, Bakken, Vawdrey, & Stone, 2012; Neter & Brainin, 2012).

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