Description

Most stakeholders in the health care system—doctors, patients, and policy makers—have not been taught to apply evidence-based information to the many decisions that must be made daily. Little awareness of this problem exists, yet a better use of evidence could improve outcomes for patients, increase patient satisfaction, and lower costs. This chapter considers how the use of information that emerges from evidence-based medicine could be improved. “Health literacy” constitutes the first step. After a discussion of the barriers that ex-ist to health literacy (e.g., lack of incentive to search for health information, non-stan-dardized reporting of health results, and poor comprehension), possible remedies are presented. Raising health literacy by targeting individual stakeholder groups, such as patients and health care professionals, is debated as is the option of focusing on change in the overall health system. What is required to achieve a change both at the individual and system levels? Solutions are unlikely to generate systemic changes in center-based treatment variations. However, a change at one level may set off change in another. Fi-nally, increasing awareness beyond the immediate professional community is necessary if systemic changes are to be made. The promotion of health literacy requires careful consideration to reach the various stakeholders throughout the health care system.


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