These four chapters of Health Literacy (HL) are mainly about communicating.

First, the author talks about “emotion”, which is a very important element when discussing your own (or your loved family’s) disease. As I mentioned in my last article, even your know very well how to read and write and also talk and listen, when, for example, the doctor tells you that you have cancer. Suddenly the world just falls apart and you lose all your communicating function. Therefore the author suggest some strategies for both providers and patients to better communicate in clinical settings when scared, sick, and overwhelmed. One of them that catches my eyes is that to use writing as a tool. Whether to provide easy-to-read materials for supplement, or to write down the questions you want to ask your doctor before meeting them, or to track your condition by writing them down, it seems that writing and reading what you’ve wrote is a good way to overcome the overwhelming emotion that taking control of your mind. This reminds me of what Emig states in her article that writing involves both left and right hemispheres of the brain, not just the emotion part.

Second, the author discusses about the importance of getting feedback throughout creating writing health materials for people. Not only because that these materials are so related to people’s health (sometime even their lives), but also because writers, not just in the field of health, but all other professional topics such as science, are usually so familiar with the content that they cannot objectively judge whether words and concepts make sense to others. The author suggests that writers should first know the intended audiences, even meet with several potential readers and ask what types of information they require. Then throughout the writing process seek feedbacks from individual interviews, focus groups or usability testing. This reminds me of Rosenblatt’s transactional theory, maybe for practical materials such as health information, the reader’s response is, and should be the most important issue.

Third, teach-back technique is a good strategy in clinical settings to make sure that patients do understand what professional staffs say. Don’t ask questions like “do you understand” because most of the time patients will just nod and smile (maybe students too). Rather, asking things by adding the attitude like “I just want to make sure I explained things well” will encourage them to speak out. I remember when I was young, in my class my teacher would assign the best student to teach the worst student during the recess time. Sometimes the “teacher” was me. Before doing that I thought it’s a waste of my time, but when I taught my classmates I found I need to think A LOT, like to summarize what I have known in mind before talking about it. This teaching experience really strengths my learning and enforces my memory of the knowledge more than ever. This teach-back technique somehow make me think of the Flipped Classroom.

Questions for thinking:

1. Is it possible that we use interviews, focus groups or testing to get feedback in classroom of writing?
2. Is it possible that we use teach-back technique in classroom to improve writing and reading?
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