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Even the Simplest Medical Instructions Are Being Misunderstood National Women's Health Report Tackles Tough Issue of Health Literacy

"Women & Health Literacy" explores the dimensions and solutions for a basic health issue: health literacy. Nearly 90 million Americans have trouble getting, understanding and applying basic health information and services. According to a recent report by the Institute of Medicine, low health literacy costs the American economy some $58 billion each year. The human cost is incalculable.

"Low health literacy is a major obstacle for millions of women as they struggle to take care of their health," said Amy Niles, president and CEO of the National Women's Health Resource Center which publishes the bimonthly National Women's Health Report. "A woman with low health literacy is far less likely to have ever had a Pap smear, a common and life-saving screening test. Our goal for this publication is that its readers, both consumers and health care professionals, do a better job of communicating. Improving the health of women depends upon improving health literacy."

"Women & Health Literacy" documents the problem in human terms. For example, there is the story of Toni Cordell who didn't understand that the "simple repair" her doctor performed was a hysterectomy until weeks after the surgery.

It also describes what health care professionals as well as consumers can do to begin to overcome the obstacles created by low health literacy.

For example, health care professionals need to think about how much their elderly patients understand, according to Ray Bullman, executive vice president of the National Council on Patient Information and Education (NCPIE), which collaborated with the NWHRC. "Allowing adequate time during an office visit for an older patient can give both more flexibility to ask questions, express concerns and review the medication regimen and instructions that they might not otherwise do or be able to do," says Mr. Bullman.

The National Women's Health Resource Center is the nation's leading independent, nonprofit organization dedicated to educating women of all ages about health and wellness issues.

The National Council on Patient Information and Education (NCPIE) is a non-profit coalition of more than 130 health organizations working to improve communication of on the appropriate use of medicines.

For a free copy of "Women & Health Literacy," visit the NWHRC's website, or call 1-877-986-9472.

For more information:
Beverly A. Dame, 888-406-9472

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