Linked to EAHP Statements
Section 4 - Clinical Pharmacy Services: Statements 4.1, 4.5, 4.6, 4.8
Section 5 - Patient Safety and Quality Assurance: Statements 5.1, 5.5, 5.7, 5.9
Health literacy (HL) is defined by the World Health Organisation as "the cognitive and social skills which determine the motivation and ability of individuals to gain access to, understand and use information in ways which promote and maintain good health". There are direct links between individual health literacy and (i) selfmanagement skills, (ii) treatment adherence (including proper and sustained use of prescribed medication regimens) (iii) use of preventative services, (iv) health outcomes, (v) hospitalisation rates, and (vi) mortality risk.
While considerable attention has been paid to promoting health literacy in ambulatory care settings including pharmacies, there has been less attention directed at inpatient settings despite the critical role hospital pharmacists play to ensure patient safety and that medications are optimised for each patient. Yet transitions from the hospital back to the community are often problematic; 1 in 5 patients experience adverse events within 3 weeks of hospital discharge. One of the major root cause are preventable, unintentional medication errors. Taking medications safely is essential to achieve optimal therapeutic benefit and reduce harms. Yet studies have repeatedly found that patients are often poorly informed about their medication's risks, benefits and instructions for use. Few mechanisms exist in clinical practice to monitor patients' medication use, leading to dosing errors and inadequate adherence. Our session will provide an overview of how hospital pharmacists, in particular, can apply their unique skillset and vantage point - upon hospital admission, duration of stay and at discharge - can promote patients' safe medication use and adherence once they transition to home.
After the session, participants should be able to:
• explain how limited health literacy negatively affects personal health and identify specific patient attributes that increase an individual's risk;
• identify 5 modifiable, community and hospital attributes that contribute to the problem of limited health literacy and can be leveraged as targets of healthcare interventions;
• evaluate ways in which the hospital pharmacist can promote a more health-literacy friendly environment for the patient/client.
Health literacy is one of the most important mediators of health outcomes that, importantly, can be modified through cognitive, educational, and behavioural strategies. Prescription (Rx) medication use is a cornerstone of disease management and self-management. Hospital pharmacists should enhance their knowledge and understanding of health literacy in order to recognise and respond to those with more limited skills in order to provide equitable care services.
Keywords: health literacy, patient safety, treatment adherence, health outcomes.