Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Promoting Health Literacy to Put Patients First - Why health literacy matters !

HELP is organizing a conference on “ Putting Patients First Through Health Literacy". This will be on Sunday, 2nd December’12 at Nehru Center at 10.30a.m. to 1.p.m.  The website is www.patientpower.in/2012 . Registrations are Free !

The conference will be followed by a health literacy workshop in the afternoon. Helen Osborne, President, Health Literacy, a world renowned  Consultant from US , will be delivering the keynote and conducting the workshop.  Her website is at

At this time, we will be releasing the book, Deciphering Medical Gobbledygook: Promoting Health Literacy to Put Patients First , authored by Dr Aniruddha Malpani and Juliette Siegfried.  

This is Chapter 2.

Chap 2. Why should we worry about health literacy?

Imagine that you are in Paris on a holiday. You cannot speak French, and you find you are lost. What do you do? You look for signs in English; check your map; try looking up your guidebook; ask passersby for assistance; and hunt for a policeman to help you find your way back to your hotel. Similarly, when patients fall ill, they find they are lost and helpless in a healthcare system, which seems to be like a foreign country, with its own language and culture. Health literacy can act as their guide and help them to navigate the healthcare system, so they can find their way back to good health!

Health literacy is important at many levels and affects all of us – not just patients and doctors. Health literacy is:

•    an essential life skill for individuals: It helps you to seek and use information and take control over your health.
•    a public health imperative: it improves overall population health.
•    an integral part of social capital: low health literacy is a strong contributor to health inequalities.
•    a critical economic issue: Low health literacy costs the US economy 73 billion dollars per year.

Gone are the “good old days “ when you could depend upon your family doctor to take care of you when you fell ill. Healthcare is changing dramatically, and this change is both a challenge and an opportunity. On the one hand, there is more choice in treatment and more information to guide our choices. On the other hand, there’s little point in having so much information if you cannot make sense of it and the deluge of information is often more confusing than helpful. Health care systems are also becoming more complex , because they involve a wider range of health care professionals from many different specialties, but it often seems that the right hand does not know what the left hand is doing, because of a lack of coordination.

Even though medical science has advanced so much, why aren’t we able to put these advances into practice in real life ? Why is obesity so rampant ? Why do people continue to smoke ? Why do people still die of preventable causes ? Is the problem that people don’t know, don’t want to know, or just don’t care? Perhaps one answer is that they are unable to understand and use the health information available to them. Many people, even educated Indians, don’t know what a calorie is, or how to burn it. It’s our job to make health information meaningful, useful, and helpful.

The rapidly changing health environment demands a lot of us as patients. When we are ill, the decisions we make place us in a vulnerable position in which we must take risks without any certainty of outcome. While health literacy is not a safeguard against this uncertainty, it can help us navigate with a better understanding of potential consequences: and can serve as a map and a compass on a difficult and unpredictable journey.

However, it’s not just enough to just build the health literacy of patients. For our societies to become health literate, all players need to become involved.

• Doctors need to tailor their communication to meet the needs of their patients , and see it as their responsibility to foster their health literacy
• Pharmaceutical companies need to educate citizens about their prescriptions . It’s not enough to medicate – they need to educate as well
Health insurance companies need to be transparent and open. Their plans and policies should empower and inform consumers, rather than confuse them with pages of fine print
• Politicians need to incorporate health literacy into their design of policy, their research agendas and their objectives for population health.

Unfortunately, health literacy appears to be low worldwide, even in developed countries. According to the World Health Organisation, in the United States, approximately 50% of adults “have difficulties understanding and acting upon health information.” In Australia, 60% of the population scored below a literacy level regarded as optimal for health maintenance.

If patients do not understand their disease or their doctor’s  instructions, they are more likely to skip medical tests; not take their medications on time; and not be able to manage chronic conditions such as high blood pressure or diabetes. The list of problems that can plague patients with low health literacy is long:

•    Delayed diagnosis
•    A higher number of visits to the doctor
•    Increased hospitalisation
•    They are more likely to be taken for a ride by quacks
•    They are more likely to be overcharged, overtested and overtreated

Low health literacy affects all of us. It costs the country hundreds of crores of rupees each year, in terms of unnecessary illnesses, wasted man-hours, and the premature death of productive citizens. People do not know how to prevent diseases such as typhoid and cholera, because they do not understand the basic concepts of hygiene and sanitation. Our high infant mortality rates are a national disgrace – but trying to treat one sick child at a time without addressing the underlying problem of poor health literacy is worse than trying to fix a fracture with a band aid. The biggest tragedy is that all these deaths are preventable, but because the problem of poor health literacy cannot be diagnosed with a blood test, it remains the ignored elephant in the room. Health literacy is an issue of social equality; and we need to develop programs that enable the poor and disadvantaged to make better use of health services. Doctors can act as powerful agents of change. Just providing free drugs will never help unless we first teach citizens how to take care of their own health.

Illiterate patients and clinical trials

India presents an attractive destination for pharmaceutical companies who need to test their drugs on patients by doing clinical trials. India has a large population, with a varied genetic pool. Virtually all Indian doctors speak English, and the infrastructure is easily and inexpensively available, especially in government hospitals. Clinical trials are scientific experiments, and when they are carried out properly, they provide invaluable information. However, illiterate patients are at risk for being exploited in these trials, and misused as guinea pigs.

Patients who are unable to read are not able to understand the contents of an informed consent document. Even when the informed consent document is read aloud to them, there is no guarantee that the patient knows what he is signing up for.  Unethical researchers ( who get paid for signing up as many participants as possible) may exaggerate the benefits and compensation , and play down the risks. India’s mind-boggling variety of languages and cultures compounds this problem in that the vast majority of illiterate patients are non-English speakers.

The Declaration of Helsinki, which was adopted by the World Medical Association in 1964, states that “each potential subject must be adequately informed of the aims, methods, anticipated benefits and potential risks of the study and the discomfort it may entail, and any other relevant aspects of the study.” While most clinical trials carried out in India today obey the letter of the law, whether they abide by the spirit of getting truly informed consent from the subject is a completely different matter. Even worse, when illiterate test subjects of clinical trials are harmed because of slipshod protocols and inadequate safeguards, they have virtually no recourse, as their access to legal representation is far more limited than for literate patients.

To reduce the incidence of improper recruiting and testing of illiterate patients, the Indian government needs to enforce stricter regulation, requiring the presence of disinterested third parties as witnesses for illiterate patients. Informed consent should be routinely recorded on video, and these taped interviews can provide court-admissible evidence of ethical behaviour on the part of the recruiters , in case there are complications , and the pharmaceutical companies which run the clinical trials are accused of wrongdoings. This would help to keep everyone honest and protect the interests of all parties.

How low health literacy affects doctors

Low health literacy makes the doctor’s job more difficult. It is more challenging to work with these patients, because it is difficult to know if they truly understand their condition and will be able to follow the doctor’s instructions. In today’s era of shorter appointments and limited resources, doctors can find dealing with these patients very frustrating , because they are not equipped with the skills to be able to take care of themselves. This is doubly tragic, because this is the group of patients who needs the most help and time from the doctor. 

On a deeper level, it makes developing an effective partnership with the patient a greater challenge.  The nature of the doctor-patient relationship has changed significantly, and it is now more important than ever that patients themselves have the ability to navigate and understand healthcare issues relevant to their lives – doctors just do not have the time, energy or resources to be able to spoon-feed them anymore.

As patients are expected to be more involved in their care, it becomes increasingly important to ensure that health information can be understood and acted on correctly. Low health literacy is a barrier to good care. Activating patients may help compensate for their lower literacy skills by empowering them to ask questions and expect answers, rather than passively complying with everything the doctor says.

Although patients are far more informed than they were 10 years ago, many express frustration and dissatisfaction with their care because they feel they did not have enough say in the decisions their doctor made for them. One reason is that patients often do not know enough about their treatment options to make well informed decisions. Also, some doctors are not supportive of patient involvement in the decision-making process, because they believe that the doctor knows best. Health literacy plays a key role in obtaining informed consent, communicating health risk, and supporting shared decision-making, thus enhancing patient satisfaction.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Promoting Health Literacy to Put Patients First - Why bother ?

HELP is organizing a conference on “ Putting Patients First Through Health Literacy  “. This will be on Sunday, 2nd December’12 at Nehru Center at 10.30a.m. to 1.p.m.  The website iswww.patientpower.in/2012 

The conference will be followed by a health literacy workshop in the afternoon. Helen Osborne, President, Health Literacy, a world renowned  Consultant from US , will be delivering the keynote and conducting the workshop.  Her website is at www.healthliteracy.com

At this time, we will be releasing the book, Deciphering Medical Gobbledygook: Promoting Health Literacy to Put Patients First , authored by Dr Aniruddha Malpani and Juliette Siegfried.  This is Chapter 1.

Chap 1 . What is Health Literacy? An Overview.

Shreya is an illiterate 30-year old mother. When Shreya’s 4-year old daughter developed earache and fever because of otitis media, her doctor prescribed her an antibiotic, in the form of a syrup.  Shreya promptly poured the medicine in her daughter’s painful ear. 

This anecdote may sound amusing, and you may feel sorry for Shreya because she cannot read, but just because you are literate does not mean that you are health literate!  Do you understand the fine print in your health insurance policy ? Can you make sense of your hospital bills ? Do you understand everything your doctors tells you ?

Health literacy is much more than just a measure of the level of knowledge you have about health. It tests your functional skills, and is defined by the US Department of Health and Human Services (2010) as the degree to which individuals have the capacity to obtain, process, and understand basic health information and services needed to make appropriate health decisions for themselves. 

It is a common misperception that low health literacy is simply a lack of health knowledge or inadequate reading (literacy) skills. In fact , everyone , regardless of education level, intelligence, or socioeconomic status can experience challenges in understanding complex medical information, especially when undergoing the stress of a serious illness.  While doctors need an MD degree in order to practice medicine, patients also need to learn basic health literacy skills to be able to receive good medical care. For example, after your annual health checkup, you get a file full of medical test reports , filled with daunting scientific terms and numbers  . Do you really know what they mean ? How often have you had questions you wanted to ask your doctor, but were afraid to do so, because you didn’t want to look like a fool ? If so, read on, because  the diagnosis is clear – you suffer from poor health literacy, and this book will help you treat this extremely common condition.

It is important to distinguish health literacy from health education and health communication. Health literacy is the goal; health education is one tool for reaching that goal. Similarly, the terms "health literacy" and "literacy" should not be freely interchanged. Health literacy encompasses more than just the ability to read written materials; it also means understanding the information so that you can take an active role in managing your health.

Health literacy gives you the skills to:

•    Interact confidently with doctors, nurses, and pharmacists
•    Find health information on the Internet 
•    Understand different treatment options
•    Understand the concepts of risk and benefits
•    Complete health insurance and medical history forms

In India, the government defines a person as being literate if he can sign his name, but in this day and age, this is grossly inadequate! Literacy refers to the ability to read, write, speak, and solve problems and there is a difference between low literacy, which refers to a limited ability to perform these tasks and illiteracy, which refers to an inability to read or write. 

The earliest definitions of health literacy were clinical because they were created by healthcare professionals, and  focussed on the patient’s ability to read and understand the information given to them in a medical context . However, today this has evolved to reflect a broader and more empowering conceptualisation of health literacy. Australian researcher Don Nutbeam (Nutbeam, 1999) argued that the traditional definition of health literacy misses much of the deeper meaning and purpose of literacy for people. Nutbeam outlines a three-level definition expressing health literacy as not simply a measure of reading and writing skills but also as a strategy for empowerment. 

• Basic/functional literacy — sufficient basic skills to be able to function effectively in daily life;
• Communicative/interactive literacy — more advanced skills that, together with social skills, can be used to actively participate in healthcare decisions;
• Critical literacy — even more advanced skills which can be applied to critically analyse information and use this to exert greater control over public health for the entire community.

Health literacy is clearly linked to general literacy skills but general literacy skills do not necessarily equip an individual for the complexity of literacy demands in the context of healthcare. Health literacy also incorporates health numeracy , which affects a wide range of skills from checking your blood pressure, tracking your cholesterol levels and counting calories to decision making with regard to risk and benefit. Math skills are required to choose the right health insurance plan , and to make sense of your hospital medical bill these days seems to require an advanced degree in statistics. Numeracy skills are important for doctors as well, who are often surprisingly poor at understanding medical statistics, which affects their ability to apply evidence-based medicine to their  patients. 

Health literacy is dynamic, requiring you to discard outdated information and learn new information on an ongoing basis, ad medical science evolves. To reflect this, a recent Canadian Expert Panel adopted the following definition of health literacy:

The ability to access, understand, evaluate and communicate information as a way to promote, maintain and improve health in a variety of settings across the life-course.  Thus, health literacy demands not just the ability to read but the skills of listening, analysing and decision making and the ability to apply these skills in the health context

Both low literacy and illiteracy are serious problems when it comes to health care, because of the risks involved in not understanding your doctor’s orders; or not being able to communicate your symptoms and personal preferences. 
Reasons for limited health literacy skills include:
•    Lack of educational opportunity – for example, people who have not completed high school 
•    Learning disabilities
•    Cognitive declines in older adults
•    Limited English proficiency ( this is a huge problem in India, where the majority of patient educational materials are still available only in English, even though this a foreign language for most Indians ! )
Even people with advanced literacy skills can be overwhelmed by health information. Medical science develops rapidly, and most of us have read something about our bodies in the past that now seems to be incorrect, based on new scientific information.  Remember when we believed that being out in the cold would give you a cold or flu? Now we know that being indoors is even riskier, because we are exposed to other people’s germs ! 

Cultural Competency

Health literacy is a multidimensional issue which is  affected by social and cultural factors , because these influence what you expect from your doctor.  A dramatic example of how this affects patients is recounted beautifully in the book, The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down: A Hmong Child, Her American Doctors, and the Collision of Two Cultures by Anne Fadiman , that chronicles the struggles of a Hmong refugee family from Laos, and their interactions with the health care system in USA. This  book tells the story of Lia, who was diagnosed with severe epilepsy, and the culture conflict that obstructs her treatment because of the dichotomy between the Hmong's perceived spiritual factors and the Americans' perceived scientific factors , and their inability to bridge their cultural gap . 

The healthcare world is a culture in itself – one which is foreign to patients. Healthcare professionals are trained for many years within an academic and technical environment that may distance them from local cultural concerns. Doctors have a language all their own, and it may be adapted specifically to their institution or specialty. Bridging the gap between the culture and language of the doctor and patient can be difficult, regardless of their educational level.

It’s interesting to see how the concept of health literacy has emerged from two different roots - as a clinical "risk", or a personal "asset". In the former case, doctors and hospitals are educated about the dangers of poor literacy skills , and this is leading to changes in clinical practice which help illiterate patients navigate the healthcare system. As a refreshing contrast, the concept of health literacy as an asset has its roots in educational research, adult learning, individual empowerment and political activism. This is focused on the development of skills to enable people to exert greater control over their health. A great example of this is how AIDS activists banded together and learned to galvanise a sluggish healthcare system , as a result of which the medical care they received improved dramatically by leaps and bounds.

Health literacy is a complex, multi-faceted issue that requires a multi-disciplinary approach. The term health literacy itself implies a junction, a crossing of two sectors: adult education and health. It is everyone’s problem – which is why it seems to be no one’s problem ! This is a challenge that is well worth tackling, because the rewards are well worth it.  While no one person can do it alone, the good news is that if we all work together, we can have a significant impact. This is a battle worth fighting – not only for our own sakes, but for the sake of our children as well.

Twin Heart Meditation With Great Invocation

A Free Talk on Twin Heart Meditation With Great Invocation by Ms. Hina Kamdar at  3.30 pm at HELP.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Putting Patients First Through Health Literacy

Entry to the conference and participation in the workshop are Free !
Please send us your registrations for the conference and the workshop.
Website: www.patientpower.in

Kidney Stone Management with Homeopathy is Operation Required in All Cases???

A Free Talk on Kidney Stone Management with Homeopathy is Operation Required in All Cases??? by Dr. Rahul Joshi at  4.00 pm at HELP.

Three Steps Rhythmic Breathing

A Free Talk on Three Steps Rhythmic Breathing by Mr. Deepak Dhingra at  3.30 pm at HELP.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Health Literacy - When Plain Language is not enough

When plain language isn’t enough

To ensure that the intended users of health information understand it, communicators must know how to reach them. Writing and speaking clearly are critical steps to achieve that goal. At the same time, communicators must also be aware of additional barriers to understanding. Intended users of the information may speak a different language or be unfamiliar with the situation; there may be critical cultural differences between sender and receiver; and intended users may have communication or development disorders.
Limited English Proficient speakers – Plain English won’t necessarily help individuals who do not speak English as their primary language and who have limited ability to read, write, speak, or understand English. Simply translating health information, such as written medical instructions, into a person’s native tongue does not guarantee that non-English speakers will be able to read or understand it. To better ensure understanding, health information for people with limited English proficiency needs to be communicated plainly in their primary language, using words and examples that make the information understandable in their language.
Cultural differences – Culture affects how people understand and respond to health information. In addition to the use of plain language, the cultural competency of health professionals can contribute to health literacy. The Office of Minority Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, defines cultural competency as the ability of health organizations and practitioners to recognize the cultural beliefs, values, attitudes, traditions, language preferences, and health practices of diverse populations, and apply that knowledge to produce a positive health outcome. Cultural competency includes communicating in a manner that is culturally and linguistically appropriate.
Lack of knowledge and experience – People with limited health literacy skills often also lack knowledge or have misconceptions about critical health topics, such as the body, its functioning, and the nature and cause of disease. Without accurate and appropriate knowledge, they often fail to understand the importance of lifestyle factors—diet and exercise, for example. They may read commonly used directions, like “take on an empty stomach,” and not understand what the terms mean (17). Even with clear directions, if the audience has no context or prior experience, they can still misunderstand. For example, when instructions say, “Give two drops, three times a day for earache,” it may not be clear whether the drops should be swallowed or placed in the ear.
Communication and developmental disorders – Plain language and other clear communication techniques may not be effective or appropriate for audiences with communication or developmental disorders. Approximately one in six Americans has a disorder or difference in communication resulting in unique challenges.1 There are also challenges for individuals suffering with mental health diseases and disorders that impair or obstruct clear communication, no matter how plain the language. These individuals will require strategies that are tailored to their needs and abilities. Developing improved ways to communicate health information to these audiences is a crucial component to addressing health literacy.

Law Of Attraction - II

A Free Talk on Law Of Attraction - II  by Mr. Ron Billimoria at  3.30 pm at HELP.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Health Literacy - Plain Language Information

Writing that is clear and to the point helps improve communication and takes less time to read and understand. Clear writing tells the reader exactly what the reader needs to know without using unnecessary words or expressions. Communicating clearly is its own reward and saves time and money. It also improves reader response to messages. Using plain language avoids creating barriers that set us apart from the people with whom we are communicating.
Health literacy incorporates a range of abilities: reading, comprehending, and analyzing information; decoding instructions, symbols, charts, and diagrams; weighing risks and benefits; and, ultimately, making decisions and taking action. The concept of health literacy also extends to the materials, environments, and challenges specifically associated with disease prevention and health promotion.


Illustration showing a man and his doctor, the doctor is saying, 'Well, yes, I suppose I could explain the test results in 'plain English' -- but then you'd know how sick you are'
Certain qualities characterize plain language. These include common, everyday words, except for necessary technical terms. Other qualities include the use of personal pronouns; the active voice; logical organization; and easy-to-read and understand design features, such as bullets and tables.
1. Engage the reader.
  • First, consider who the reader is. Often, there is more than one reader.
  • Consider what the reader needs to know. Organize content to answer the reader's questions.
  • Write for the appropriate reading level.
2. Write Clearly. Use common, everyday words whenever possible.
  • Word Choices:
    • Use common, everyday words
    • Use other personal pronouns such as "you"
    • Use "must" instead of "shall"
    • Avoid using undefined technical terms
    • Use positive rather than negative words
    • Avoid using gender-specific terminology
    • Avoid long strings of nouns
  • Verb Forms:
    • Use active voice
    • Use action verbs
    • Use the present tense
  • Structure:
    • Use parallel construction
    • Be direct
    • Avoid using unnecessary exceptions
3. Display Material Correctly
Appearance is an important aspect of clear communication. If a document is pleasing to the eye, it will be more likely to attract your reader's attention. Appearance can also be an aid to the reader, improving comprehension and retention. There are four main aspects of appearance:
  • Organization. Strong, logical organization includes an introduction followed by short sentences and paragraphs. Organize messages to respond to reader interests and concerns.
  • Introduction. In lengthier documents, use an introduction and a table of contents to help the reader understand how a document is organized.
  • Short sentences and paragraphs. Sentence length should average 15-20 words. Sentences that are simple, active, affirmative, and declarative hold the reader's interest. Generally, each paragraph should contain only one topic. A series of paragraphs may be used to express complex or highly technical information. The more writing deviates from a clear and to-the-point structure, the harder it will be for the reader to understand what is being conveyed.
  • Layout. Layout includes margins, headings, and white space. Provide white space between sections to break up text and to make it easier for readers to understand. Use headings to guide the reader; the question-and-answer format is especially helpful. Try to anticipate the reader's questions and pose them as the reader would. Use adequate margins.
  • Tables. Tables make complex information readily understandable. Tables can help the reader see relationships more easily. They may require fewer words than straight text.
  • Typography: Typography relates to fonts and typographical elements used for emphasis, such as bullets or italics.
4. Evaluate Your Document
To ensure that you are communicating clearly, evaluate the document or have another person read it and offer suggestions for clarification. Look over the document for:
  • Correct spelling, grammar, and punctuation;
  • Inclusion of appropriate devices, such as dating, page numbering, and consistency;
  • Visual appeal;
  • Consistency and effectiveness of layout and typographical devices (avoid overuse); and
  • Line breaks that inadvertently separate part of a name or date in a way that reduces clarity.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Wonders of Ayurveda - IV

A Free Talk on Wonders of Ayurveda - IV by Dr. Rohit Bartake at  3.30 pm at HELP.

Health Literacy - Learn to Read Medical Prescriptions

Skills Needed for Health Literacy

Patients are often faced with complex information and treatment decisions. Some of the specific tasks patients are required to carry out may include:

evaluating information for credibility and quality,
analyzing relative risks and benefits,
calculating dosages,
interpreting test results, or
locating health information.
In order to accomplish these tasks, individuals may need to be:

visually literate (able to understand graphs or other visual information),
computer literate (able to operate a computer),
information literate (able to obtain and apply relevant information), and
numerically or computationally literate (able to calculate or reason numerically).
Oral language skills are important as well. Patients need to articulate their health concerns and describe their symptoms accurately. They need to ask pertinent questions, and they need to understand spoken medical advice or treatment directions. In an age of shared responsibility between physician and patient for health care, patients need strong decision-making skills. With the development of the Internet as a source of health information, health literacy may also include the ability to search the Internet and evaluate websites.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Health Literacy - Caring for Patients with Low Health Literacy

Patients with poor reading ability have problems accessing the health care system, understanding recommended treatments, and following the instructions of providers. Because of their shame, patients with low literacy may be unwilling to disclose their problem to health care providers, and screening tests of reading ability may be necessary to identify those who need special assistance.

Energy Psychology

A Free Talk on Energy Psychology by Mr. Rivesh Vade at  4.30 pm at HELP.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Health Literacy - Making Sense of Online Health Information


Increasingly, health information is accessed via the internet, but a number of barriers prevent consumers making effective use of it. These barriers include inadequate skills to search, evaluate and use the information. It has not yet been demonstrated whether training consumers to use the internet for health information can result in positive health outcomes.  

People with low health literacy typically:
–Fail to seek preventive care
–Are less likely to follow treatment plans
–Have increased rates of hospitalization and use of emergency services
–Have difficulty understanding written and oral communication
–Stay in the hospital longer than someone with higher health literacy

There are thousands of health-related websites on the Internet. Some of the information on these websites is reliable. Some of it is not. Some of the information is current. Some of it is not. Choosing which website to trust is worth thinking about.
Some questions you may ask:

1. How do I find reliable health information online?
2. Who sponsors the website? Can you easily identify the sponsor?
3. Who wrote the information?
4. Who reviews the information? Does the website have an editorial board?
5. When was the information written?

Use your common sense and good judgment when evaluating health information online. There are websites on nearly every conceivable health topic and no rules overseeing the quality of the information. Take a deep breath and think a bit before acting on any health information you find on the web. Don't count on any one website. If possible, check with several sources to confirm the accuracy of your results. And remember to talk with your doctor.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

World Mental Health Day - 10 Oct 2012

Visit HELP Library to read up books on Depression:


                 Top Things to Know About Depression Depression is different from regular sadness because it lasts

Signs of Depression

When people have depression, it affects their emotions and mood. It twists their way of thinking. Depression can also affect people physically, even causing body aches and pains. Not everyone who is depressed shows it in exactly the same way, though.
Here are some of the things people notice with depression:
  • Negative feelings and mood.Depression involves feeling a negative, low mood for weeks or more. Someone with depression might feel unusually sad, discouraged, or defeated. He or she may feel hopeless, helpless, or alone. Some people feel guilty, unworthy, rejected, or unloved. Any or all of these emotions can be part of a depressed mood.

    Depression doesn't always cause people to feel mostly sad, though. For some people, depression shows up as a lasting mood of feeling irritable, easily annoyed, angry, or alienated.
  • Negative thinking. When somebody has depression, it can cloud everything. The world looks bleak, and the person's thoughts reflect that hopelessness and helplessness. This can make a person think things will never get better, that problems are too big to solve, that nothing can improve the situation, or that nothing matters.

    People with depression tend to have negative and self-critical thoughts. They may believe they are worthless and unlovable — even though that's not true. Depression can cause someone to think that life isn't worth living. That can lead people with depression to think about harming themselves or about ending their own life.
  • Low energy and motivation. People with depression may feel tired, drained, or exhausted. They might even move more slowly or take longer to do things. It can feel as if everything requires more effort. People who feel this way might have trouble motivating themselves to do or care about anything.
  • Concentration. Depression can make it hard to concentrate and focus. It might be hard to complete schoolwork, pay attention in class, remember lessons, or stay focused on what others say.
  • Physical symptoms. People can feel depression in their bodies as well as their minds. Some people have an upset stomach or loss of appetite. Some might gain or lose weight. Some people notice headaches and sleeping problems when they're depressed.
  • Social withdrawing. Because of feelings of sadness and low energy, people with depression may pull away from friends and family or from activities they once enjoyed. This usually makes them feel more lonely and isolated. That can make the depression and negative thinking worse.

Source: http://kidshealth.org/teen/your_mind/mental_health/depression.html#

Mental Health - Positive Expression Of Emotions And Psychological Well-being

A Free Talk on Mental Health - Positive Expression Of Emotions And Psychological Well-being by Mr. Rashid Merchant at  4.00 pm at HELP.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Monday, October 8, 2012

Health Literacy - Ability to Effectively Communicate With Your Doctor

According to Healthy People 2010, an individual is considered to be "health literate" when he or she possesses the skills to understand information and services and use them to make appropriate decisions about health.
Areas commonly associated with health literacy include:
  • Patient-physician communication
  • Drug labeling Medical instructions and medical compliance
  • Health information publications and other resources
  • Informed consent
  • Responding to medical and insurance forms
  • Giving patient history
  • Public health training
  • Assessments for allied professional programs, such as social work and speech-language pathology
Alarmingly, these skills and strategies are absent in more than half of the U.S. population. This fact is more disturbing when one considers that these are the very skills and strategies that often lead to longer life, improved quality of life, reduction of both chronic disease and health disparities, as well as cost savings. 

Meditation Workshop

A Free Talk on Meditation Workshop by Ms. Shyamaladevi Chena at  3.30 pm at HELP.

Panel Discussion Spiritual Healing in Real Life Situation

A Free Talk on Panel Discussion Spiritual Healing in Real Life Situation by Ms. Tejal Gandhi at  3.30 pm at HELP.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Health Literacy and Medical Errors

When literacy collides with health care, the issue of “health literacy” – defined as the degree to which
individuals have the capacity to obtain, process, and understand basic health information and services needed
to make appropriate health decisions – begins to cast a long patient safety shadow.

health care information – such as insurance forms, consent forms, and medication instructions – is often very complex and seemingly impenetrable. Even those who are most proficient at using text and numbers may be compromised in the understanding of health care information when they are challenged by sickness and feelings of vulnerability.

Health literacy also encompasses the educational, social and cultural factors that influence the expectations and preferences of the individual, and the extent to which those providing health care services can meet those expectations and preferences. Health care practitioners literally have to understand where their patients “are coming from” – the beliefs, values, and cultural mores and traditions that influence how health care information is shared and received.

We understand the importance of Health Literacy.  

Putting Patients First Through Health Literacy - conference and free workshop scheduled to be held on Sunday, 2 Dec is a step forward in this direction.  Please visit our conference website: www.patientpower.in for complete details on how to register.