English version
German version
Spanish version
French version
Italian version
Portuguese / Brazilian version
Dutch version
Greek version
Russian version
Japanese version
Korean version
Simplified Chinese version
Traditional Chinese version
Hindi version
Czech version
Slovak version
Bulgarian version

Are you sometimes confused by written medical instructions?

Health insurance RSS Feed

Now, imagine what it would be like if you were sick, scared and

had only third grade reading skills. Your doctor tells you, "You've

got to follow these instructions exactly, or you could die."

About 200 recent studies have shown the reading difficulty of

most health related materials FAR exceeds the average reading

abilities of the American adult. One of the biggest silent health

problems today is the gap between health materials and reading


In the United States, the average reading level is eighth grade.

In 1992, the Educational Testing Service determined that half

U.S. adults read at between first and eight grade level. That is

about 148 million people. It gets worse. One quarter of Americans

read BELOW FOURTH GRADE level, meaning 74 million people would

struggle with even the simplest, most well written health


Does it matter? Do you remember the anthrax scare, when someone

was putting deadly white powder into our mail system?

During that terrorist scare, the U.S. post office mailed millions

of post cards to Americans. The post cards told people how to

protect themselves from the deadly infection. They gave

instructions on how to handle and report suspicious mail. These

post cards were written at between ninth and eleventh grade

reading level.

More than half the people who got that mailing could not read it

well enough to protect themselves and others. Does it matter? Do

148 million people matter? Will it matter the next time the

terrorists strike?

Do you remember the mailing the Surgeon General sent out

explaining how to avoid contracting HIV? He made every effort to

see that it was written in clear, simple language. He got

criticism for just how plain talking it was in places. A later

evaluation of that document showed that it was written at between

seventh and ninth grade level. Half the people receiving it read

at a level BELOW what was required to read it. No wonder the

infection keeps spreading.

Think about it. For millions of people, the problem is not just

the tiny print on prescription bottles. The problem is the words

themselves. What does "take on an empty stomach" mean exactly?

When should you "take four times a day"? Perhaps your doctor

explained to you at the office. Do you remember what the doctor

said a week later?

Have you ever read the instructions for testing and assessing

blood sugar levels? Have you ever tried to fill out a Medicare

form? Do you struggle with letters from your health insurance


Only 45% of asthmatics with literacy problems knew that they

should stay away from things they are allergic to even if they

WERE taking asthma medication. 89% of the people reading at high

school level were clear about the same information. It's not a

matter of intelligence. It's a matter of a missing skill which

well-educated health providers presume is present in their

readers when they sit down to write.

There are two parts to the problem: the writer and the reader.

Recently, the public health community has begun efforts to raise

awareness. They are alerting the medical providers to the impact

of health literacy issues. Some fledgling efforts are underway to

provide clearer, simpler materials for the public. People are

finding alternatives to reading for presenting the same


There is a long way to go. Sign up now with your local literacy

program as a volunteer.

Drop in on your elderly neighbor and help her learn to read the

specialized health material so critical in her life. (You may

want to ask her about her life first, to save embarrassment when

you learn you're talking to a retired English teacher). Start

with all those ridiculously obscure materials her doctor sent

home with her about glaucoma. You can go on to that Medicare form

she needs to send in tomorrow.

Do you want to know what eighth grade reading level is? You just

read 700 words of it. 74 million Americans reading at below

fourth grade level could have found it too hard for them to


The information contained in this article is for educational purposes

only and is not intended to medically diagnose, treat or cure any

disease. Consult a health care practitioner before beginning any

health care program.

About the author:

Emily Clark is editor at Lifestyle Health News and Medical Health News
where you can find the most up-to-date advice and information on
many medical, health and lifestyle topics.

Article Source: Messaggiamo.Com


» Tattoo Me Now!
» Turbulence Training.. is Amazing
» Acne Free In 3 Days
» Master Cleanse Secrets 10 Day Di

Webmaster Get Html Code
Add this article to your website now!

Webmaster Submit your Articles
No registration required! Fill in the form and your article is in the Messaggiamo.Com Directory!

Add to Google RSS Feed See our mobile site See our desktop site Follow us on Twitter!

Submit your articles to Messaggiamo.Com Directory


Copyright 2006-2011 Messaggiamo.Com - Site Map - Privacy - Webmaster submit your articles to Messaggiamo.Com Directory [0.01]
Hosting by webhosting24.com
Dedicated servers sponsored by server24.eu