Friday, March 2, 2012

Downloadable Version of Understanding Medical Words Tutorial

MedlinePlus Team announces a downloadable version for the Understanding Medical Words: A Tutorial from the National Library of Medicine 

The tutorial begins with insight into medical terminology and how patients and professional healthcare workers speak different languages.  The interface allows the user to work through the tutorial at their own pace and includes hands on exercises.  

“Break-it-up!” teaches the user to decipher medical terms by breaking it down into different parts. “Word Roots” shows the consumer common terms that are primary roots in medical terminology.  The learner goes through roots for the heart and blood vessels, parts of the head, digestive organs, the rest of the body, and then begins a practice session defining terms using roots.  Beginnings and endings of words about size, location, tests and procedures, color, problems, and medical specialists are covered.  The user then practices combining the terms with more hands on practice.  The tutorial has a built in quiz testing the learner’s knowledge and helping enforce what has been covered.  Last the tutorial covers common abbreviations or acronyms in medical terminology.  

Links to the MedlinePlus MedicalDictionary, Word Parts and What They Mean, and Common Abbreviations for more information are included at the end of the program, but the buttons only work with an Internet connection.  The entire tutorial can be downloaded and viewed without an Internet connection for use within classrooms.  

Friday, February 10, 2012

AHRQ: Pharmacy Health Literacy

Health literacy has been defined as a necessary component of a pharmacy due to contact with a wide population base many of which may have low health literacy levels.  Pharmacists are responsible for “making sure patients obtain the maximum positive health outcomes from their medications.” (1) Medication errors have been reported to be higher among patients with low health literacy levels, and pharmacists are “one of the most accessible health care providers.” (1) Recent studies have shown positive effects of addressing health literacy issues within pharmacies such as the Pharmacy Intervention for Limited Literacy supported by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ).

The Pharmacy Intervention for Limited Literacy (PILL) study was conducted to evaluate intervention procedures for health literacy in an urban health system comprised of lower income pharmacies. (2) The study was comprised of three components: an automated telephone reminder program, PicturRx also known as a pill card, and health literacy training for pharmacists and staff. (3) The patient population within the study group was comprised of patients who were mainly African American, lower income, and had one or multiple chronic health conditions.  Patient response to PILL was mainly positive with most participants discussing the PictureRx component.  The cards were thought to be helpful, with one respondent stating, “It's got the colors of the medications and everything, and it tells you what it's for, what it's used for, and I liked it.” (2) Pharmacists responded that once glitches in the software were worked out the pill cards were useful tools in for counseling patients and reinforcing information. (2)

Patients and pharmacists both felt the automated telephone reminder calls in regards to prescription refills were successful in helping patients adhere to refill schedules with their prescriptions.  Communication skill training provided to pharmacists and staff helped in understanding of patient confusion with medication instructions.  Many pharmacists used clearer, more defined terminology after training to alleviate confusion and medical jargon from communications with patients.  Increased awareness of assessment of patient understanding was a reported outcome by pharmacists.  The tools designed within this program are available alongside a multitude of resources at the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) Pharmacy Health Literacy Center website.

The AHRQ has developed the following health literacy tools for use within pharmacies:
  • Pharmacy Health Literacy Assessment Tool:  Tool provides a means of assessing the pharmacy and staff in meeting patients needs, comprehension of health literacy issues, and ways to improve customer service.  The program is also available Spanish. 
  • Training Program for Pharmacy Staff on Communication: The guide serves as a tutorial for awareness of low health literacy, aids in identification of barriers for patients with low literacy skills within the pharmacy setting, and explains techniques and opportunities to increase communication between staff and patients.
  • Pill Card Creation Guide: Provides design and implementation tips for pill card creation for patients.  Templates, clip art, and images are provided for use and inspiration.


(1) Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Pharmacy health literacy center 2012; Available at: Accessed February 9, 2012.

(2) Blake SC, McMorris K, Jacobson KL, Gazmararian JA, Kripalani S. A qualitative evaluation of a health literacy intervention to improve medication adherence for underserved pharmacy patients. J Health Care Poor Underserved. 2010;21(2);559-567.

(3) Gazmararian JA, Jacobson KL, Pan Y, Schmotzer B, Kriplalani S. Effect of a pharmacy-based health literacy intervention and patient characteristics on medication refill adherence in an urban health system. Ann Pharmacother. 2010;44(1);80-87.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

American Heart Association: Go Red for Women, February 3

Go Red for WomenNational Wear Red Day is February 3, 2012

To dispel the myths and raise awareness about heart disease in women the American Heart Association created the Go Red for Women campaign.  In the past heart disease and heart attacks were considered an older man’s disease.  Most scholarly research has focused on men for guidelines, treatment, and programs. 

In 2003 the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI), the American Heart Association and other organizations joined together to raise awareness among women of heart disease.  Heart disease is the number one killer of women causing 1 in 3 deaths each year, yet only 55% of women realize this or the risk factors of conditions such as cholesterol or high blood pressure.  Go Red for Women aims to help spread the word of healthier living guidelines for women, raise awareness of risk factors, and empower women to take charge of their heart health. National Wear Red Day is February 3, 2012.

The Heart Healthy at Any Age page provides resources for warning signs of heart attacks , knowing and reducing your risks, ways to get involved with the movement, and guidelines for women in their twenties, thirties, forties, fifties, and sixties .  Resources are also available in Spanish.

The site also includes resources and tools for professionals with sections on understanding patient needs, patient education materials and tools, statistical data, and guidleines.

Wear red on February 3, and help spread the message!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Duke University Medical Center Libguides

Duke University Health Literacy Libguides cover a wide range of health literacy information ranging from materials for educators, plain language, patient care, and videos and tutorials. (1)  An interesting aspect to the site is a section on Cultural Competence which is defined as “a set of congruent behaviors, attitudes, and policies that come together in a system, agency, or among professionals that enables work in cross-cultural situations.” (2)

According to the Office of Minority Health cultural competence is a key component in bridging the gap in health care.  The ability to be respectful of patient beliefs, practices, and “cultural and linguistic needs” can produce “positive health outcomes.” (2) 

Latino Health provides a variety of resources on Latino and Hispanic health issues.  Universal Symbols in Health Care can be accessed from this page and provides guidance on developing a symbols-based wayfinding system for health care institutions. (3)

The libguides are extensive, current, and well worth bookmarking for future reference.  An RSS feed is available for updates.


(1) Duke University Medical Center. Duke University Medical Center health literacy libguides. 2012; Available at: Accessed January 21, 2012.

(2) Office of Minority Health. What is cultural competency? 2005; Available at: Accessed January 21, 2012.

(3) Hablamos Juntos, SEGD, Pioneer Robert Wood Foundation. Universal symbols in health care: Developing a symbols-based wayfinding system: Implementation guidebook. :ES:1-5.5. 

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Bunker Roy: Learning from a barefoot movement

Spotlight: Health Literacy and ESOL

Spotlight: Teaching Health Literacy to Adult English Language Learners

Teaching Health Literacy to Adult English Language Learners is a site providing web-based training for ESOL providers.  Topics covered within the curriculum include:

  • Access to health services
  • Preventative health and nutrition
  • Vocabulary
  • Talking with the doctor
  • Medicine labels
  • Lesson plans, picture stories, classroom activities, and additional resources
  • Inservice points are awarded for completion of curriculum


(1) Florida Technet. Teaching health literacy to adult english language earners. Available at: Accessed January 18, 2012.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Press Announcements FDA Approves Vaccines for the 2011-2012 Influenza Season

Press Announcements FDA approves vaccines for the 2011-2012 influenza season

Outreach Resources from can be found at :

Materials include print brochures, social media (Twitter, YouTube, podcasts, RSS feeds, widgets, buttons, e-cards), video, and audio formats.

Spread the word about preventing the Flu!

Learn about Who Needs A Flu Vaccine. about Who Needs A Flu Vaccine.