Screen all patients for their literacy level

  • The REALM: Rapid Estimate of Adult Literacy in Medicine is a 1-2 minute screening exam designed to measure recognition and comprehension of medical terminology.
  • Ask the patient how comfortable they are filling out medical forms by themselves.

Assess reading level of materials you distribute

  • The Suitability Assessment of Materials and the Medicaid Checklist are readability formulas that evaluate educational materials for how well they are understood, and how well they stimulate learning.
  • Fleisch-Kincaid Grade Level Formula counts the number of syllables in each word and the number of words in each sentence.
  • The SMOG (Simple Measure of Gobbledygook) index evaluates material based on average sentence length and counts words that have three or more syllables in 30 sentences.

References:

Center for Health Care Strategies, Inc. Available at: http://www.chcs.org

Rajda, C., George, N. (2009). The Effect of Education and Literacy Levels on Health Outcomes of the Elderly. The Journal for Nurse Practitioners, 5(2), 115-119.

Wallace, LS., Rogers, ES., Roskos, SE., Holiday, DB, Weiss, BD. Screening items to identify patients with limited health literacy skills. J Gen Intern Med. 2006; 21:874-877.

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