A1 Health literacy - the role of pharmacists

Monday 29 August 2016
Hilton Buenos Aires : Pacifico A

Organised by the Congress Programme Committee

Simultaneous translation in Spanish



For people to be able to read, understand and act on health and medicines-related information effectively, they must be provided with information, verbally and/or in written format, which matches their health literacy level. “Health literacy represents the cognitive and social skills which determine the motivation and ability of individuals to gain access to, understand and use information in ways which promote and maintain good health” (Nutbeam 1998). Health literacy, therefore, can be regarded both as an asset as well as a risk. It is well recognised that health literacy is critical to empowerment and thus improved health outcomes.

Although health literacy is not a new concept, it has received greater attention in recent years, with mounting discussions about the role that health care professionals can play in increasing patients’ health literacy levels as well as providing information at a level that can be understood by most people. A range of programmes and strategies are available, which aim to improve people’s access to health and medicines information and increase their capacity to use this information effectively.

This session will enable a better understanding of consumer health literacy, the impact of low health literacy on health outcomes, and the role of the pharmacist as well as other health care professionals in improving consumers’ health literacy.  

Learning objectives

At the conclusion of this knowledge-based session, participants will be able to:

  1. Describe health literacy as an asset and a risk (including the various factors that influence consumer health literacy) and the impact of health literacy on health outcomes
  2. Describe strategies (at both local and global levels) used to increase people’s capacity to use health and medicines information effectively
  3. Identify the barriers and facilitators to the development and implementation of strategies to increase people’s capacity to use health and medicines information effectively
  4. Identify the role of the pharmacist as a key stakeholder in the development and implementation of these strategies. 

Parisa Aslani (The University of Sydney, Australia) and Betty Chaar (The University of Sydney, Australia)



1)      Health literacy universal precautions — Appropriate communication strategies to support improved patient health outcomes?

Michael Wolf (Northwestern University, USA)


2)      The Crystal Clear Project – a health literacy initiative from the Irish Pharmacy Union 

Pamela Logan (Irish Pharmacy Union, Ireland)

15:30 – 15:50 Coffee/tea break


3)      Training packages for pharmacy staff to assist in risk management for consumers with low health literacy

Greg Duncan (Monash University, Australia)


4)      Workshop

Jenelle Sobotka (University of Cincinnati, USA) and Greg Duncan (Monash University, Australia)

Case studies with examples from real-life scenarios in pharmacy will be distributed among groups for discussion.

These cases will explore each of the issues raised in the presentations above.

a)      Enhancement of pharmacy staff awareness of patients’ health literacy to better provide patient care

b)      Identification of risk management strategies to reduce risks associated with low health literacy

c)       Training of pharmacy students and staff in health literacy universal precautions; including spoken and written communication, tools to improvement patient self-management and empowerment, and tools to improve supportive systems

d)      Cultural sensitivity

Each group will then report back to the larger audience, followed by discussion.