Studies show that people who understand health instructions make fewer mistakes when they take their medicine or prepare for a medical procedure. They may also get well sooner or be able to better manage a chronic health condition.
For instance, when you visit the doctor or pharmacy you could focus on the following three questions:
1. What is my problem?
2. What do I need to do?
3. Why is it important for me to do this?
Health literacy is all about encouraging patients to be aware of the role they can play in achieving their own long-term health and treatment goals. For instance, understanding the condition that you have is sometimes complex, but our pharmacists can explain in it every-day terms. A good place to start on the internet is www.healthnavigator.org.nz but if you find information on other sites, ask a pharmacist to interpret it for you as it may or may not be relevant to your situation.
A good pearl of wisdom if you are experiencing changes in health, is to keep a symptom diary. For example, for acid reflux, write down in a notebook how often you experience the symptoms, how intense they are and if you believe they were triggered by a food or action. Although this approach may seem OTT, it will help you when you are in the consulting room with the Doctor trying desperately to remember how bad it has really been. (It is human nature to trivialise our problems in the light of day, instead of being concise and objective!)
Feel free to come and talk to our pharmacists Kelsi, Cindy, Trudy and Jackie, after all we are the health professional you see most often. #heretohelp