July 10th, 2010 by Christian Seebode

It may be intuitive for some people for others not. The more you know the healthier you live. A study  investigating the influence of health literacy on the occurrence of hypoglycemic episodes in diabetic 2 patients reveals a significant relationship:

http://xnet.kp.org/newscenter/pressreleases/nat/2010/051910diabetes.html

The following quote depicts one main aspect of health illiteracy in this studydreamstime_14136388

Serious hypoglycemic events occur more often than are clinically recognized, especially among patients who may have difficulty understanding written materials. Providers and pharmacists need to ensure that their patients fully understand the instructions that come with each medication or patient safety may be compromised.

But understanding the medication is just part of the literacy needed.  Diabetes 2 is a perfect example of a chronic condition with an elevated demand for monitoring and adaption. And this is not limited to medication, more important is the adaptation of diet and lifestyle. Controling diabetes means to learn about the path the disease takes and monitor the necessary parameters. In fact this control could and should be performed by the patient. See this post for an example. Health literacy for diabetes is achieved as a cognitive and learning path individually by each patient. This is why patient centered information and education systems should reflect this path by a combination of diary, monitoring and evaluation modules. Discussion with the expert physician who supplies guidance is also necessary. Patient Centered Information Systems can contribute the necessary feedback for patients which is much better than just taking a pill or insulin. Of course this only works if the patient is motivated to do this work.  Since health literacy is such an individual issue the motivation is also an individual thing. But i am convinced that every patient is kind of motivated by having a chance to gain control over a situation which evolves positively for him.

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