Check out these past "In Other Words" columns

Communicating health information through community coalitions

Making health information clear is not always easy. Getting this information to the people who need it can be even harder. Sometimes, the best way of doing both is to form a community coalition. (On Call, 06/05/08)

Using visuals and other creative tools to make health messages clear

When Bill Smith, EdD, was working as a Peace Corps volunteer in Colombia, he and colleagues faced the challenge of educating people in a rural village about malaria. (On Call, 05/08/08)

Abbreviations, acronyms, and other healthcare shorthand

Imagine what it's like to be suddenly injured or ill. You or your family member calls 911. EMTs arrive and take you to the nearest ER or ED. You or someone in your family is given a lot of paperwork, including HIPAA notification. (On Call, 04/10/08)

Using music and song as tools of health communication

Some days, his tools are a stethoscope and prescription pad. Other days, they include a microphone and guitar. But whichever tool he is using, Mache Seibel, MD, is actively educating people about health and wellness.(On Call, 03/20/08)

Helping patients separate true health information from false

Your grandmother has arthritis and is desperately seeking a cure. She recalls reading that someone (she can't remember who) in some newspaper (she can't recall which one) said that shark cartilage is helpful. (On Call, 02/28/08)

Actively listening for what patients do not say

Not only can active listening help identify gaps in understanding, but it can also pinpoint cognitive or performance problems. (On Call, 01/31/08)

How memory affects health understanding

You just walked ten minutes each way to pick up four needed items at the grocery store. Now that you're home, you realize you forgot one of them. (On Call, 01/10/08)

Screening for health literacy using the Newest Vital Sign

What does a pint of ice cream have to do with health literacy? Quite a lot, according to Barry D. Weiss, MD, who is professor of family and community medicine at the University of Arizona College of Medicine. (On Call, 12/11/07)

Confirming understanding with the teach-back technique

The only way to know for sure whether patients understand how to properly use their medication is by asking. (On Call, 11/20/07)

Using graphics and humor to convey healthcare essentials

These bulletin boards on topics as wide-ranging as firework safety, hand washing, immunizations, and health literacy are fun and unique. (On Call, 10/23/07)

Health Numeracy: How do patients handle the concept of quantity when it relates to their health?

Health numeracy includes a broad spectrum of abstract quantitative concepts. Risk and probability are examples of concepts that many people have trouble picturing and understanding. (On Call, 09/19/07)

Talking with patients about integrative therapies

Numerous studies have shown that very few patients (considerably less than half) ever discuss traditional or non-prescribed remedies with their healthcare providers. (On Call, 08/21/07)

When providers are patients

Most of us in healthcare choose to do this work because we care about people and want to help others. But should illness or injury happen, and we become the ones who need care, our perspectives may radically change. (On Call, 07/24/07)

How to help patients manage their action planning

Patients, not providers, are ultimately responsible for the day-to-day management of their own chronic condition. But figuring out what to do and being consistent about doing it is hard for almost everyone. (On Call, 06/26/07)

What healthcare settings can learn from zoos about signage and wayfinding

Oddly enough, health literacy came to mind when I recently visited the elephant house at the Chicago Zoological Society's Brookfield Zoo. (On Call, 05/29/07)

When patients and providers talk about health

Healthcare providers and patients alike may struggle to communicate clearly, and both can walk away from conversations unsure about whether they understand what was said or were understood themselves. (On Call, 05/10/07)

Helping patients understand healthcare costs

William Shrank, MD, MSHS, knows a lot about healthcare costs, especially the copays (out-of-pocket expenses) that patients spend on prescription medications. (On Call, 4/24/07)