Investigate the crucial importance and relationship of health literacy to effective communication in a culturally diverse healthcare environment

HEA230 Cultural Competence in
Healthcare
Module 2: Effective communication
Introduction
This module considers the ways knowledge and communication interact in a healthcare
environment. The key components of health literacy are examined, and
there is some
exploration about some of the influences on effective communication during a healthcare
encounter. It will become clear that health literacy extends far beyond being able to read
about health and disease, as it encompasses cultural and conce
ptual knowledge,
assumptions and language amongst many other factors. The communication skills required
of health professionals also must address language and culture, and should aim specifically
to reduce disparities in access to quality health care. In
the third topic of this module attention
is paid to the role of interpreters, and some ways to make the most of this important human
resource are
considered.
Learning outcomes
On completion of this module you will be able to:
1.
Evaluate the key components o
f health literacy and the links and relationship
to safe and effective healthcare;
2.
Investigate the key components of health communication and the links and
relationship to safe and effective healthcare;
3.
Ascertain the need, rationale and best practice for orking with interpreters
.
HEA230
Module
2
Page
2
Topic 1: Health literacy
In Module 1 the impact of diverse cultural values and beliefs on work practice and the
challenges met in cross

cultural work environments were considered
. In this topic some of
the key components of health literacy
are identified
,
and discussed how it has been
recognised
as an important influence on the safety and quality of health care.
The views of
several authors whose work aims to broaden the scope of health literacy to include factors
other than a pat
ient’s or consumer’s ability to read about health are taken into account, and
an emphasis is placed on the cultural basis of health care delivery, including the recognition
that health communication is an interactive process.
As you read, you will note th
at there
is considerable variation in the ways ‘health literacy’
has
been
conceptualised and applied
in the literature
.
Key areas of difference relate to whether
health literacy is considered to be an individual

level construct or incorporates factors bey
ond
the individual, and whether health literacy level is considered static or dynamic
(Berkman,
Davis, & McCormack, 2010)
. Health literacy has also been defined as a set of skills, or more
broadly as a theory of behaviour change [5], or as a form of social
practice [6].
Early definitions (and assessment tools) were confined to the ability of consumers or patients
to access print

based information. However, most definitions now recognise health literacy
as more than general literacy skills. For example,
Th
e Calgary Charter on Health Literacy
(2011) includes:
reading, writing, listening, speaking, numeracy, and critical analysis, as well
as communication and interaction skills
(Coleman et al., 2011, p. 1)
.
The ability to navigate
health services is also inc
luded in some health literacy frameworks.
Further:
“Improving health literacy can contribute to more informed choices, reduced health risks,
increased prevention and wellness, better navigation of the health system, improved patient
safety, better patient
care, fewer inequities in health, and improved quality of life”
(Coleman et
al., 2011, p. 2)

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