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Health Literacy and Communication in Palliative Care 

Health Literacy and Communication in Palliative Care
Health Literacy and Communication in Palliative Care

Wen-ying Sylvia Chou

, Anna Gaysynsky

, and Alexander Persoskie

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date: 20 October 2020

Health literacy refers to individuals’ ability to obtain, understand, and use health information and services in order to make appropriate health decisions within a healthcare system. Limited health literacy can impede patient-centered palliative care by (a) limiting patients’ and caregivers’ ability to navigate the healthcare system, (b) creating additional barriers to patient-provider communication, and (c) hindering patient self-care and caregiver support. After reviewing the role of health literacy in palliative care, this chapter highlights examples of efforts and tools that address health literacy with the goal of facilitating patient-centered palliative care communication. Strategies are aimed at the patient and caregiver level, the care-setting level, the community level, and the national and state policy levels. The chapter concludes with a discussion of research priorities and emerging opportunities for addressing health literacy barriers for optimal palliative care, including leveraging innovative communication technologies and extending research on palliative care beyond cancer.

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