The Role of Universal Health Literacy Precautions in Minimizing “Medspeak” and Promoting Shared Decision Making

by Lara Killian and Margo Coletti
AMA Journal of Ethics, March 2017, Vol. 19, Nr. 3: 296-303

8 pp. 71 kB
http://journalofethics.ama-assn.org/2017/03/pdf/pfor1-1703.pdf

Shared decision making (SDM), a collaborative process whereby patients and professionals make health care decisions together, is a cornerstone of ethical patient care. The patient-clinician communication necessary to achieve SDM depends on many factors, not the least of which is a shared language (sometimes with the aid of a medical interpreter). However, even when a patient and clinician are speaking the same mother tongue, the use of medical jargon can pose a large and unnecessary barrier. This article discusses how health care professionals can use “universal health literacy precautions” as a legal, practical, and ethical means to enhance SDM and improve health care outcomes.

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