VCU librarian contributes expertise to free Southeast Health Literacy Conference April 14-16

April 7, 2021

Patients need health literacy to navigate all aspects of their health and the health care system. Having low health literacy places patients at higher risk of hospitalization and even death. 

Traditionally, the burden falls on patients to gain the skills to navigate the health care system. That focus is now shifting to health care providers and organizations to reduce the health literacy burden placed on patients.

The VCU Medical Center Health and Wellness Library contributes to health literacy efforts by providing patients with reliable consumer-level information in a language and format they can use to make appropriate health care decisions. The Health and Wellness Library provides patients and family members with free and accessible information about diseases and conditions, prevention, screening, medical tests, procedures and treatments via library-based and online consumer health information and through a variety of health programs aimed at patients and community members.The Health and Wellness Library also enhances health care providers' knowledge through health literacy training workshops. 

Recognizing these efforts and VCU’s expertise in consumer health information, the planning committee of the Southeast Health Literacy Conference invited the Health and Wellness Librarian, Dana L. Ladd, Ph.D., to join the committee to assist in planning the inaugural Southeast Health Literacy Conference, which will be held April 14-16, 2021 via Zoom. Registration is required but there is no fee to participate in the conference. 

The three-day conference will focus on health literacy and health equity and include presentations and panel discussions by health literacy experts on effective health communication strategies, health misinformation, and the impact of COVID-19 on vulnerable populations. COVID-19 has highlighted the racial health inequities and also the need to critically evaluate health information. 

"I invite members of the VCU and VCU Health communities, local librarians and anyone who works with patients to attend this informative and timely conference to gain knowledge of how you can reduce health literacy barriers for patients,” says Ladd.  

Two pre-conference workshops are also scheduled. Sabrina Kurtz-Rossi, director of the Health Literacy Leadership Institute at Tufts University, will provide an introduction to health literacy. In the workshop, participants will learn more about health literacy, its impacts on patient health, and ways health care providers can improve health literacy.   

Following the introduction session, Ladd will teach a one-hour workshop on plain language writing. Using plain language is one way of reducing the health literacy burden on patients. Attendees will learn how using plain language helps communicate health concepts in a clear way so that people can find information, understand what they read or hear and use the information to make informed health decisions. Attendees will learn strategies for writing for patients using plain language concepts and design and have the opportunity to practice using plain language.

The conference is hosted and organized by Medical University of South Carolina Libraries and Hands on Health South Carolina. If you are interested in attending the Southeast Health Literacy conference you can view the agenda and register for the conference online. There is no charge to attend. The conference has been funded in whole or in part with Federal funds from the Department of Health and Human Services, National Institutes of Health, National Library of Medicine, under Grant Number UG4LM012340 with the University of Maryland, Baltimore.


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