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Dimensions of Critical Care Nursing:
doi: 10.1097/DCC.0b013e31823a5471
Leadership DIMENSION

When the Patient and Family Just Do Not Get It: Overcoming Low Health Literacy in Critical Care

Ingram, Racquel PhD, RN; Kautz, Donald D. PhD, RN, CRRN, CNE

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Abstract

Low health literacy in patients and families has been called a silent epidemic. Although there is a great deal of literature to assist nurses to address health literacy problems, little has focused on overcoming low health literacy in critical care. This article provides a definition of health literacy, explores how Baker’s health literacy model can be applied to the critical care environment using Osborne’s practical strategies, and presents 2 patient scenarios in which addressing low health literacy changed the outcomes for the patient and family. The article concludes with recommendations for critical care nurses to overcome low health literacy of patients and their families.

© 2012 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.

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