The $15,000 grant from the National Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health will fund exploration of health literacy among the PCOM patient population.
As the U.S. healthcare industry continues to shift its focus towards maintaining wellness and preventing disease, health literacy and patient education are becoming more important aspects of care. Yet a 2010 report by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion found groups such as those over 65, minority populations, and those with incomes at or below poverty level are more likely to experience limited health literacy.
Many in these groups comprise the 22,000 patients served annually by PCOM’s community-based healthcare centers in Philadelphia and rural Sullivan County, Pennsylvania.
Now, thanks to a $15,000 grant from the National Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health, the PCOM Library is working with the healthcare centers to coordinate a patient-education needs assessment, to determine how education among the healthcare centers’ patient population factors into their understanding of their personal health issues, self-management of their health and ultimately, compliance with the care plan laid out by their PCOM physician.
“Studies have shown that a patient's level of health literacy can affect compliance and adherence to their healthcare provider's treatment plan, and access to credible health/patient education information is something that libraries provide,” explained the study’s principal investigator (PI), P.J. Grier, MPA, MLIS, associate director, library and educational information systems. “Ultimately, we’d like for the Library to provide a sustained patient-education delivery platform, in concert with physicians and mental health providers in the clinics.”
The Library will conduct the needs assessment with the help of Susan LaValley, MA, MLS, MS, a medical librarian with extensive experience working with clinical populations. Ms. LaValley, the project’s co-PI, will collect data about patients’ education through observation, interviews, surveys and physician and psychologist focus groups.
“Part of meeting the needs of our patients is providing them with relevant information about their health and any conditions they need to manage,” said Harry J. Morris DO ’78, MPH, professor and chair, family medicine. “Something as simple as giving them a pamphlet to take with them can help underscore what their doctor is telling them, but it has to be well-understood by the patient in order to be effective.”
The goal of the project is to provide the Library with information that can serve as the groundwork for future research that targets specific aspects of PCOM’s patient population, such as health conditions, areas of residence, or insurance status.
PCOM’s healthcare centers, which also serve as clinical training sites for PCOM students, are recognized as Level 3 Patient-Centered Medical Homes by the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA). The NCQA Patient-Centered Medical Home standards emphasize the use of systematic, patient-centered, coordinated care that supports access, communication and patient involvement
To learn more about our healthcare centers, visit Patient Services at PCOM.
This project is supported by the National Library of Medicine (NLM), National Institutes of Health (NIH) under cooperative agreement number UG4LM012342 with the University of Pittsburgh, Health Sciences Library System. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.
Founded in 1899, Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine has trained thousands of highly competent, caring physicians, health practitioners and behavioral scientists who practice a “whole person” approach to care—treating people, not just symptoms. PCOM offers doctorate degrees in educational psychology, osteopathic medicine, pharmacy, physical therapy and psychology, and graduate degrees in aging and long-term care administration, biomedical sciences, forensic medicine, mental health counseling, organizational development and leadership, physician assistant studies and school psychology. Our students learn the importance of health promotion, research, education and service to the community. Through its community-based Healthcare Centers, PCOM provides care to medically underserved populations in inner-city and rural locations. For more information, visit pcom.edu.
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