Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Health Literacy

This week I asked the Regional Literacy Consultants of Wisconsin Literacy a question, namely, what resources are out there for tutors and teachers to use with learners who are 1) interested in health literacy and 2) would like some direction as to how to speak to their health care providers.

Margarete Cook, Northwest Regional Consultant, wrote back, saying, “There is a wonderful free curriculum available for ESL online called Project Shine. It is located at This site has a downloadable Word document with helpful pictures and easy-language instruction.”
Below is an excerpt I cut and pasted from that document:

Before you read: Look at the pictures (A-D) and answer the questions.

Shapiro, N. and Adelson-Goldstein, J. (1998). The Oxford Picture Dictionary. New York: Oxford University Press, p. 85.

  1. Who do you see in these pictures?
  2. Where are they?
  3. Who is the man calling? Why?

Margarete continues, “Another resource for ESL is called Picture Stories for Adult ESL Health Literacy. It is located at this link. I would think that both of these would help the learner with terminology and understanding to communicate with their provider.” And finally, to see a site that has dialogues, readings and puzzles for beginning students, visit

From Marsha Connet, the Good Consultant of the Northwest:

“One of the best tools out there is the Ask Me 3 program from Clear Health Communication. It teaches the student three basic questions to ask their health care provider at each visit.

I've taught it to student-tutor pairs, individuals with ESL and other communication issues, the elderly and the general public and it's always well received."


Sent: Wednesday, September 26, 2007 1:19 PM


Here are some ideas - things the patient can say - and sources:

  • "Can you show me any pictures of this?" (Ref. Houts, Doak, Doak, Loscalzo, "Using pictures in health education: Patient Ed and Counseling, May, 2006.) Pictures help greatly in patient understanding and recall.
  • "In this brochure you've given me, could you show me (or highlite) the most important thing for me to do?" (Lorraine, if you will be presenting with slides, you could show an example of this.)
  • Bring a spouse or a family member with you who might remind you of qestions or concerns that you have - and who will also listen to the doctor's answers.
  • For procedures to be done by the patient, and for multiple medication taking, ask "Could you show me how to do that?"

These are a few patient interactions ideas. See more starting on page 158 of "Teaching patients with low literacy skills, 2nd Ed."

Thanks very much the Regional Literacy Consultants for this helpful information.

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