Terri Ann Parnell, DNP, RN, is principal and founder of Health Literacy Partners, LLC, and adjunct assistant professor at Hofstra North Shore-LIJ School of Graduate Nursing and Physician Assistant Studies, Hempstead, N.Y. In this second part of the Q&A, Parnell talks about resources she recommends for those interested in learning about health literacy and how she became involved in the field.
What resources do you recommend for nurse educators who want to learn more about health literacy and patient education?
I would begin with “Health Literacy: A Prescription to End Confusion (2004),” published by The National Academies Press, which is a landmark publication. This will provide a great foundational overview.
As a member of the IOM Roundtable, I would suggest visiting the IOM’s Roundtable on Health Literacy website. It has many commissioned papers and perspectives that are extremely informative on a variety of topics related to health literacy.
The CDC has a specific section dedicated to health literacy with many resources and training activities. It also provides a tool that will assist in the development of written materials called the Clear Communication Index.
The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality has many resources, in particular the Health Literacy Universal Precaution Toolkit, which would be helpful to nurses in primary care settings. In addition, the AHRQ’s Patient Education Materials Assessment Tool is available as a resource for printed materials.
The National Action Plan to Improve Health Literacy was published in 2010 as a multi-sector effort that focuses on a health literate society.
Lastly, I would encourage nurses to visit the Happenings section of my website, Health Literacy Partners, for free resources.
How did you become involved in health literacy?
My foundation in health literacy really began while I was in nursing school. I went to a diploma program at St. Vincent’s Hospital in Greenwich Village, N.Y. The Sisters of Charity had tremendous faith and committed themselves to compassionate care to all in the community, and as you may imagine, Greenwich Village was quite diverse.
As part of our clinical assignments, we went out into all different communities and into single-room occupancies, which was housing that consisted of individual rooms for one or two residents in a large multiple-tenant building. It was such a humbling experience and where I feel my foundation in person-centered care and health literacy really began.
I am very grateful for the foundational nursing education I received at St. Vincent’s. In fact, while on the steps of Saint Patrick’s Cathedral — where my nursing school graduation ceremony was held — I mentioned to my family that I would publish a book one day. Little did I know then, that the topic of my second book would be “Health Literacy in Nursing: Providing Person-Centered Care.”
Read the first part of our Q&A with Terri Ann Parnell.
What health literacy principles have worked effectively in your nursing practice?