Michigan Health Literacy Awareness Training Program
The Michigan Health Literacy Awareness Training Program (MHLATP) was a collaborative project between the Taubman Health Sciences Library (THL) and Washtenaw Literacy. The Greater Midwest Region of the National Network of Libraries of Medicine provided a $23,134 subcontract award to fund this effort that started in November 2007. The goal of this two-year project was to raise awareness among health professionals of the issue of low literacy and poor health literacy among their patients, and to provide communication techniques and resources to improve patient care.
Building on an established Washtenaw Literacy curriculum that raised awareness of low literacy, the collaborators expanded this curriculum to address poor health literacy as well as low literacy. Classes were offered to health providers in a variety of settings, particularly in neighborhood-based health clinics. Additional collaboration between the partners and the health care providers enabled MHLATP to create a comprehensive health literacy educational resource. The final outcome included the development of two research guides:
1.) Improving Health Literacy: Improving Health Communication - features information about low literacy and its impact on health disparities.
2.) Improving Health Literacy: Training Resources - features various self-paced training resources for writing plain language health information.
In addition to these research guides, a Plain Language Medical Dictionary Google gadget was built using the Center for Disease Control’s Plain Language Thesaurus for Health Communications. Users are able to browse through a list of high-level medical terms to find plain language equivalents. In September 2010, the THL team received the Midwest Medical Library Association's Jean Williams Sayre Innovation Award for this plain language gadget.
As a closer to this project, THL organized a two-day “Health Literacy Forum” with the aim of building a community network to improve health communication. On the evening of Thursday, October 22nd 2009, THL hosted a panel discussion of literacy statistics and local programs aimed at improving health literacy and health communication. Videos of the panel discussion can be viewed on the “Improving Health Communication” Research Guide. A poster session followed the panel discussion and featured 18 community programs aimed at improving health literacy. Event photos can be viewed on the THL facebook page.
On October 23rd 2009, Jean Shipman, Director of the Spencer S. Eccles Health Sciences Library, taught a morning workshop on improving health literacy. She discussed research and development of the Medical Library Association's "Health Information Literacy Curriculum" and then taught the program that they created. The workshop slides are viewable at the bottom of the “Improving Health Communication” Research Guide.
THL Project staff included Jane Blumenthal (Principal Investigator), Patricia Martin (Project Coordinator), Carol Shannon (Trainer), Patricia Anderson (Trainer), Hung Truong (Web Programmer), and Kate Saylor (Event Coordinator).
Washtenaw Literacy project staff included Chris Roberts (Consultant and Trainer), Blair Kraft (Consultant and Trainer), and Megan Jenkins (Consultant and Trainer).
This was one of four recent subcontracts for the Taubman Health Sciences Library funded by the National Network of Libraries of Medicine, Greater Midwest Region. Other projects have focused on health information for people with disabilities, public health 2.0, and social media for public health. This project has been funded in whole or in part with federal funds from the National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health, Department of Health and Human Services, under contract no. N01-LM-6-3503 with the University of Illinois at Chicago.