Tag Archive for: health education

There are two kinds of health literacy: personal health literacy and organizational health literacy. Personal health literacy describes the extent to which people have the capacity to locate, comprehend, and apply information and/or services that they have obtained to make informed health decisions and actions for themselves and others. Organizational health literacy is the extent to which organizations and associations equip individuals with what is necessary to draw conclusions and inferences that enhance their understanding and enable them to make informed health decisions and act for themselves and others.

Why is Health Literacy Important?

Health literacy is instrumental in influencing health disparities because it can serve as an essential barrier or bridge to comprehension of health education material. An impactful determinant of health, a person’s health literacy is more likely to accurately predict their behaviors when compared with economic status, age, or ethnic background. Health literacy also has a substantial effect on an individual’s health: those who lack health literacy are twice as likely to be hospitalized as those who possess satisfactory levels of health literacy. The most common cause for this could be: misinterpretation of information or incorrect dosage of self-administered medication or treatments. 

Those who lack health literacy may be ashamed and/or hesitant to open up about this issue with their healthcare providers for fear of judgment, and this may hinder their trust in the healthcare industry. This in turn may be pernicious towards their overall well-being.

How Can We Account for This When Developing Educational Materials?

There are an abundance of ways to make accommodations in health resources in order to account for differences in health literacy.

  • Use Plain Language
      • Avoid technical slang or jargon
        • If technical terms are used, be sure to define them in lay language and contextualize it so that the intended audience understands how and when it is utilized.
      • If the health resource is an article, include a plain language summary (this is something that the database Cochrane practices), a glossary of terms and words with phonetic pronunciation guides, and at least one example of how the term or phrase is used.
  • Be Aware of Appropriate Phrasing and Preferred Communication
      • Be sure to provide materials in the languages that are most often spoken in your area, and to interact with reliable translators to verify that the facts are coming across correctly and fully in all languages.
        • Brochures, forms, and other materials at health education events can be available in multiple languages
        • It is important to be aware of perception of words used in verbal and written communication
          • For instance, avoid the qualifier “disorders” when discussing mental health or the term “co-morbidities”, since they carry negative connotations. Instead, opt for terms such as “mental health conditions”, and “co-occurrences”. 
        • Identity-first vs person-first
          • Identity-first language puts a person’s condition before the person, and person-first language puts the person before their condition.
            • Preferences depend on the community, so it is important to consult a variety of sources and be receptive to your audience(s) and their input.
  • Visual Supplements for Written Materials 
    • Infographics
      • Can provide helpful imagery to highlight main ideas of the research
      • Assists people who may have trouble imagining what the text is conveying
    • Text, Font, and Contrast
      • Large text can be helpful for people with visual impairments
      • Fonts should be clear and legible
      • Colors, hues, or both for background and text should contrast in a way that does not obscure the information

Just as zip code is a salient social determinant of health, health literacy serves as an important indicator of potential health behaviors and outcomes. Being able to consume, understand, and disseminate health information will help people and those they care about immensely in that the decisions made and actions taken will be more robustly supported and informed. 

Reach out to us at info@coloncancerfoundation.org if you would like to collaborate and create accessible health materials pertaining to colorectal cancer, prevention, or another related topic!

 

Vanessa Seidner is a Colorectal Cancer Prevention Intern with the Colon Cancer Foundation.

Photo credit: Alexander Grey on Unsplash.

By Vanessa Seidner

The Colon Cancer Foundation and the 2024 Early-Age Onset Colorectal Cancer (EAO-CRC) Chair, Dr. Cathy Eng of the Young Adult Cancer Program at Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center, will be hosting the 8th Annual EAO-CRC Summit in Nashville, Tennessee, which will provide the grounds for discussions about the latest technological and medical advances, how to build community, and about what actions can be taken at various levels to address the rise in EAO-CRC. 

Colorectal cancer (CRC) is the third most common cancer among men and women. This cancer occurs more often in the older population, yet there has been a rapid rise in CRC incidence among young people. Early-Age Onset (EAO) CRC refers to cases of colon or rectal cancer that occur in people under the age of 50 years. There has been an annual increase in these cases of approximately 2% since 2011.

Some of the best ways to prevent CRC or avoid unfavorable outcomes include on-time screening (starting at age 45 years – earlier if there are symptoms or family history), knowing the risk factors and family history, and consulting medical professionals when potential symptoms arise. One of the most effective ways to increase awareness of these solutions is through health education.

How Can We Encourage Health Education on EAO-CRC for College Students?

There are several opportunities to host educational events. The implementation of peer educators in colleges and universities is a cost-effective approach that allows students to impart valuable knowledge to their peers about meaningful and healthy lifestyle changes. While health outlooks differ, health education can be tailored to specific audiences to increase the likelihood that someone can reach and maintain their concept of optimal health. 

Health education events can appear as presentations, panels, tabling, and expositions. 

  • Presentations
      • Longer, more information-dense messaging
        • Can incorporate interactive questions and activities and pre/post surveys that allow participants to think critically about what they have learned and about how they will apply it to their lives moving forward. Information pamphlets and giveaways can also bolster interactivity. 
      • Key takeaways: Elaborate and in-depth, allows for active participation, and allows for future action to be taken.
  • Panels
      • Question and answer sessions. These can allow for an increased sense of closeness.
        • Panelists can provide a variety of perspectives germane to their topic
        • They can share anecdotes and experiences – personal, occupational, or both 
        • Specific contact information can be provided in case an audience member wishes to reach out to a panelist.
      • Key takeaways: Allows sharing of diverse viewpoints, opportunity for an open dialogue 
  • Tabling Events 
    • Drop-by event; can give quick overviews
    • Opportunity to share information pamphlets and giveaways
    • Can host activities to engage visitors in discussion and have giveaways
    • Key takeaways: Cost- and time-effective, succinct, and engaging – tabling events are a popular health education method                                                                                                   

Colleges and universities can host one or more of these events to increase awareness on risk factors, symptoms, the need to consult a medical professional if symptoms occur, and the importance of regular screening. As for timing, it is best to do so on days where there are not as many classes, in populous areas, and during a time of day when there is a higher influx of people, such as around a mealtime or when a certain timeblock for classes commonly ends. 

March is Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month. Consider a tabling event with information about the disease and with some free merchandise. Students can also be encouraged to wear dark blue to increase awareness of CRC.

Reach out to us at info@coloncancerfoundation.org if you would like to partner on an information event in March or any other time!

 

Vanessa Seidner is a Colorectal Cancer Prevention Intern with the Colon Cancer Foundation.

Photo Source: Naassom Azevedo on Unsplash