Clinical transplant nurse Jessica Saucier from Baylor Research Institute has created created a low-health-literacy module directed at helping patients with liver cirrhosis better understand their condition.
The primary indictor of Saucer’s success is seen during and at the end the module. A survey that was designed to measure the patients’ health literacy at the time yielded a 40% overall improvement.
Health literacy, which is the ability to read, understand, and make decisions based on health care information with the use of comprehension and understanding of numbers, is an important factor in the overall success of patient treatment and improvement of quality of life. In fact, a review of 96 studies showed that low health literacy is associated with poorer health outcomes and poorer use of health care services.
However, Saucier discovered that with the use of pictures and visual projections, patients that had low health literacy tend to respond better to compliance with their treatment modalities. Instead of just giving written instructions, discharged patients were given a set of pictures that had signs and symbols. Examples of which were, a saltshaker drawn next to a down arrow and a wine bottle with an “x” over time which meant that the patient should lessen or avoid them. Supplemental visual cues, such as videos, composed of PowerPoint presentations mixed with real life scenarios that tackled medication and proper diet, were also given.
To further support her findings, a study by the National Work Group on Literacy and Health recommends that providers rely less on written instructions and that health-care material be written at a fifth-grade reading level or lower.
She said, “Liver disease is difficult to understand even for intelligent people.”
Together with the patients’ support group and the healthcare community, Saucier plans to lead and act as a nurse navigator in terms of coordinating and guiding the patients and their caregivers to avoid any complications.
“I am hoping to an inpatient multidisciplinary approach and a nurse navigator model will reduce admissions,” she said.
Clearly, nurses play a critical role in the development and continuum of health research, and are at the front lines of promoting better health. Saucier’s research is among more than 100 nurse-led studies at Baylor Health Care System.