When nurses understand their patients' health literacy levels, as well as what kind of additional supports they need, it could lead to better drug compliance, according to one advanced practice nurse.
It is important that nurses have an understanding of their patients' health literacy in order to ensure drug compliance, explained Patricia Jakel, MN, RN, AOCN, an advance practice nurse at UCLA Santa Monica Medical Center.
You have to have a connection and a trust with the patient. I think you have to assess the patient. I've had patients where they get it right away, and then there is low medical literacy in some patients. Maybe they don't speak English. I'll use Spanish because it's the primary second language in Southern California... The same thing happens in English, too. They may not be literate in reading or writing Spanish or English. And you don't know that, people don't tell you. So handing them pieces of paper, they take it, they smile and say thank you, but they might not be able to read it. I think you really have to do a good learning assessment with that patient. Have them read something.
One time I had a patient, gosh, I can't remember how many months I was seeing that patient. And then then, finally, he confessed to me that he could not read English. I was like, 'Wow, all those pieces of paper I gave you...' He said, 'No I was really good at listening and memorizing what you were saying.' That's kind of sad. I shouldn't have put him in that situation ... They need somebody in the room with them. There needs to be a second person, a caregiver, a family member, a friend.
Unfortunately I have a lot of patients who don't have family members. We work with advocates. In breast cancer there are advocates you can have on your side to come in and talk and be a part of your visits and help you navigate the healthcare system. They're either volunteers or the patient pays for. That's another avenue that patients go.