Thursday, October 5, 2017

October is Health Literacy Month!

If you have ever left the doctor’s office confused or tried to research a health topic but did not quite understand the information, you are not alone.  


Medical information, prescription instructions, and the health system as a whole are complex notions for the layperson and especially for those with learning disabilities and English as a second language. A patient’s ability to process health information is affected by literacy skills, age, disability, cultural competency, and emotional responses.


Health Literacy Month highlights the need for plain language, easy-to-access, and reliable health information understood by all.    


At Worcester Public Library we strive to provide jargon-free health information for our patrons. In our Consumer Health Reference area, we offer health reference books that are easy to read and understand. We also provide pamphlets, brochures, and community information.


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Health Reference Center
On our website, we have selected a list of health websites with reliable information. One website in particular, Healthfinder.gov, specializes in plain language medical information. This site offers easy-to-read health information in both English and Spanish on topics ranging from health conditions and diseases to doctors visits to parenting.  Medlineplus.gov, also in English and Spanish, is another reliable website to research health needs.


When researching health information on the internet:


  • be sure to verify the information is current; most health articles will have a “last updated” date somewhere on the page
  • if the website ends in .com, be wary; if it ends in .gov, .edu, or .org you can expect the information to be reliable
  • always ensure the information is accurate by checking other reliable websites and health books to verify the information
  • websites full of advertisements may indicate the website is in the business of selling ads and not in the business of providing reliable health information


If English is your second language you have the right to language help at no cost to; talk with doctors, nurses, and other staff members; talk about bills and insurance; and to make appointments.


Misunderstanding medical information can have costly and unnecessary consequences. Ask questions to clarify, do your research using reliable health resources, and ask for an interpreter when needed, to make sure your health needs are met.  


Review our Health Literacy Reading List and visit the Health Literacy Display on the 2nd floor of the Main Library for more information today.
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Health Literacy display; up for the month of October


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