Using health literacy to bridge gap between doctors and patients

Being literate does not necessarily make you a literate in the area of health, said doctors at a Health Literacy conference at the Nehru centre, Worli on Sunday.

“Doctors need to listen patients, and patients must be able to articulate their problems,” said Dr Aniruddha Malpani, founder of Health Education Library for People (HELP) which organised the conference.

The conference called Putting Patients First Through Health Literacy highlighted the fact that being literate and being health literate are two different terms.

“Patients are illiterate when it comes to the medical legal documents that are shown to them. There is a need for doctors to have greater interaction with patients about medical diagnosis and the treatment they will be undergoing,” said Prabhakar Rao, a trustee in Jeet Association for Support to Cancer Patients (JASCAP), a cancer help group.

“Medical librarians are the link between the doctor and patients,” said Dr Medha Joshi, head of library and information Sciences at Tata Memorial Hospital.

“Health literacy is a bridge gap between knowing, learning and being positively aware,” she added.

During the conference, the organisors released the book ‘Decoding Medical Gobbledygook – Health Literacy Puts Patients First’ which covers subjects like health literacy, the need for doctor-patient communication, and the contemporary issues in health literacy.


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