The Wright Center’s: Health Literacy Goes A Long Way Toward Long-term Wellness Members News October 12, 2023 Here at The Wright Center, we’re big proponents of our patients serving as their own best advocates for their long-term health. So, naturally, we’re happy to promote awareness campaigns like Health Literacy Month. Observed throughout October, Health Literacy Month was started in 1999 by health communication expert Helen Osborne as a way for organizations and the general public to spread awareness on the need for patients to more efficiently process, analyze, and evaluate the information they are receiving from their health care providers. Through better health literacy, people can overcome challenges that result in bad health outcomes and in the process, create a more equitable world “where everyone can access high-quality care and achieve positive health outcomes,” according to the Institute for Healthcare Advancement (IHA), the group that oversees Health Literacy Month. According to IHA, studies have shown that a large number of patients have significant difficulty reading, comprehending, and acting on the health information provided to them, often due to the complexity of the information and a lack of clear, plainspoken communication on the part of the provider. In addition, basic literacy skills, language differences, age, disability, cultural context, and emotional responses can also hinder a patient’s health literacy, which can negatively affect health outcomes and costs. Thankfully, efforts like Health Literacy Month are helping to bridge that gap. In recent years, the event has become a worldwide initiative with numerous health care organizations, government agencies, literacy programs, colleges, professional organizations, businesses, social service organizations, and community partnerships hosting and collaborating on various health literacy events every October. Fitting into that theme, earlier this year The Wright Center joined an impressive list of organizations across the country when it was designated by the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion (ODPHP), an office of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, as a Healthy People 2030 Champion, affirming our longtime commitment to improving the health and well-being of all people. Applicants are selected on the basis of possessing a demonstrated interest in and experience with disease prevention, health promotion, health equity, well-being, and health literacy. One of the main focuses of the Healthy People initiative is addressing the social determinants of health (SDOH). These social conditions impact people in the places where they live, learn, work, and play and can affect their quality of life and health. Examples of SDOH include exposure to polluted air and water, exposure to racism and violence, and an individual’s level of access to things such as nutritious foods, educational attainment, job opportunities, safe housing, and outlets for physical activity. The Wright Center has made SDOH a critical part of our mission, and we’re firmly committed to providing exceptional integrated primary and preventive health care services to our diverse patient population throughout Northeast Pennsylvania. That means giving patients the tools they need to become their best advocates, including spending as much time as needed with them and their families and delivering information with clarity, purpose, and empathy. Our resident physicians also partnered with community organizations to address SDOH. For example, we delivered educational programming at the Indraloka Animal Sanctuary for regional children about the importance of healthy eating habits and collaborated with Child Hunger Outreach Partners to package nutritious food for regional children experiencing food insecurity. It is important to know that a little knowledge goes a long way. My colleagues and I at The Wright Center for Community Health are adamant about providing patients with the right information so they can make the right decisions about their health. For more information about Health Literacy Month, visit https://healthliteracymonth.org. Ayushi Jain, M.D., is a resident physician in The Wright Center for Graduate Medical Education’s Internal Medicine Residency program and serves as the chief resident liaison for The Wright Center for Patient and Community Engagement Board.