Health literacy training for junior doctors
Library and Knowledge Service: University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust
Contact name: Kerry Booth
Contact email: [email protected]
Date completed: August 2022
Short summary of the initiative/project
After completing the Heath Literacy Awareness and Train the Trainer sessions delivered by Health Education England and Community Health and Learning Foundation, I co-presented an awareness session for library professionals from health, academic and public libraries in June 2019. I then adapted the training for delivery in my own organisation.
Who did you work with?
I have worked with the postgraduate team to be included in the newly qualified doctors teaching programme since 2019. I am also currently collaborating with the patient information officer and the patient experience team on improving the session and promoting the generic awareness session to staff and students working in the Trust. The undergraduate team have also been assisting with getting a bespoke session to the new nursing students, year 4 medical students and also the student physician associate.
The session covered what health literacy is, its impact and a variety of examples. There were opportunities for discussion, sharing experience and a couple of practical activities. I created an exercise which required participants to crack a code, in order to give them a sense of how it feels to be out of your depth and to not fully understand the information in front of you. The ‘codebreaker’ gives participants four sentences written entirely with symbols, each accompanied with an image to give clues to participants as they attempt to break the code. Working with junior doctors meant that the codebreaker exercise needed to be improved after the initial session to make it more difficult for subsequent sessions.
Opportunities for discussion enabled the attendees to share experiences of working directly with patients who had lower levels of health literacy. One doctor told a story of his attempt to explain a planned treatment to a patient. During the conversation, it became increasingly clear that the patient had no understanding of the next steps and the doctor was left feeling a little lost as to how to make himself understood.
The session has been adapted for use as a general awareness session for health professionals including non-clinical staff. This session debuted during health information week 2022 and is also scheduled to be delivered to our Trust governors with a view to offering general sessions on a more regular basis.
Also, from the initial health literacy awareness session for the recently qualified doctors; further sessions covering patient information (that is being delivered collaboratively with our patient information officer and is focused on methods such as teach back, chunk and check and how to write information for patients) and introduction to misinformation have been developed. This expanded ‘patient communication programme’ will be delivered in autumn 2022 as part of the junior doctor teaching programme. Bespoke sessions are also in development for the year 4 medical students and new nursing students that will be delivered in autumn 2022.
Page last reviewed: 6 December 2022
Next review due: 5 December 2023