Nurse Overestimation of Patients' Health Literacy

Patient education and effective communication are core elements of the nursing profession; therefore, awareness of a patient’s HL is integral to patient care, safety, education and counseling. Several prior studies have suggested health care providers overestimate their patient’s health literacy. In this study we compare inpatient nurses' estimate of their patient’s health literacy to the patient’s health literacy using the Newest Vital Sign as the health literacy measurement. A total of 65 patients and 30 nurses were enrolled in this trial. Our results demonstrate that nurses incorrectly identify patients with low HL and overestimates outnumber underestimates 6 to 1. The results reinforce previous evidence that health care providers overestimate a patient’s HL. The overestimation of a patient’s HL by nursing personnel may contribute to the widespread problem of poor health outcomes and hospital readmission rates.

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