Health Information Literacy
MLA Health Information Literacy Research Project
Submitted by Sabrina Kurtz-Rossi, Coordinator, MLA Health Information Literacy Research Project Coordinator
The Health Information Literacy (HIL) Research Project, a project of the Medical Library Association under contract and working with the National Library of Medicine, held a working conference in Indianapolis, IN, on April 3–4, 2008. The conference was supported in part by the Indiana University School of Library and Information Science. The purpose of the working conference was to review and finalize the health information literacy curriculum that will be piloted by nine hospital-based libraries and to prepare the pilot sites to use the curriculum to train health care providers in their institutions. Participants included the pilot site librarians, project advisors, representatives from the National Network of Libraries of Medicine (NN/LM), local health care professionals with an interest and expertise in health literacy, and other invited guests.
On day one of the working conference, participants reviewed project goals and objectives, accomplishments to date, and next steps. One of the project’s accomplishments was the completion of a national survey of hospital-based administrators and health care providers to assess their awareness and understanding of health information literacy and its value in support of patient care. Participants began a discussion of preliminary findings and implications. Results from the survey will be presented at MLA ’08 during the Health Information Literacy Open Forum on Tuesday, May 20, from 3:30–4:30 pm. Another major accomplishment was the selection of nine pilot training sites. We recognized and congratulated the pilot training sites for being selected to participate in the study. Next steps include the piloting of the health information literacy curriculum by the nine sites. The health information literacy curriculum was presented, and a panel of health care professionals provided feedback and engaged participants in a lively discussion of the role of librarians in health literacy and in providing health information literacy resources and services to health care providers and their patients.
On day two of the working conference, participants focused on preparing for the pilot. Three key components of the pilot were discussed at length: implementing the health information literacy training, promoting NLM resources such as MedlinePlus and Information Rx, and providing consumer health information resources and services to health care providers and their patients. The day ended with a comprehensive review and discussion of the pilot evaluation plan, tools, and timeline. The working conference stimulated a great deal of discussion, along with the sharing of ideas and experiences that will be used to inform the Health Information Literacy Research Project and pilot sites as we move forward with our work.
“It was a vitalizing experience to actually meet the other pilot site librarians whom we have only met via conference calls. There were so many great questions, ideas and suggestions generated between the guest speakers, participants, project advisors and NN/LM staff. I came away charged up and ready to heighten awareness of health literacy in our healthcare system. I am also excited at the prospect of making this a system wide safety measure and with the help of our public library perhaps, a citywide endeavor that extends well past the pilot project charge and/or time.” Lenora Kinzie, Stauffer Health Sciences Library, Stormont-Vail HealthCare, Topeka, KS
“I have just finished my first class to a group 12 ob/gyns. I can hardly contain myself over the level of interest that was expressed. Two of the doctors present have already asked me for a large quantity of the Info Rx posters to put up in their offices. The HIL conference enabled me to feel confident and prepared to make this important presentation.” Julie Smith, AHIP, Burlew Medical Library, St. Joseph Hospital, Orange, CA
“As a participating library in the HIL pilot project, I feel so lucky to have this great group of project advisors and colleagues participating, creating and promoting relevant tools for educating health care providers in health information literacy issues. Medical librarians and their role in helping to understand and promote health information literacy are emphasized in this education. The amount of work that has been put into this research project, and that was presented at the working conference, is so impressive. Hearing from other librarians about their situations, experiences and challenges with a consumer health service gave me a number of ideas on how to develop and promote my own. Participating in the MLA Health Information Literacy Research Project has enriched and expanded my knowledge and ideas for offering relevant, user-friendly, health information materials for my new consumer customers.” Andrea Harrow, Medical Library, Good Samaritan Hospital, Los Angeles, CA
“When we initially applied for the MLA Health Information Literacy Research Project grant, there was an outpouring of support from many areas of our hospital. Many health care providers do recognize low health literacy is a serious barrier to good health. They are receptive to tools and resources that will assist then in improving both health literacy and healthy outcomes for their patients. This MLA Health Information Literacy Research Project is a wonderful opportunity to demonstrate to the health care profession how medical libraries and librarians can partner with providers to help make a positive difference.” Denise Rumschlag, AHIP, and Carolyn Martin, AHIP, Garceau Library, St. Vincent Hospital, Indianapolis, IN
“Meeting other pilot site librarians who are willing and ready to present health information literacy strategies to an elite front-line group of physicians, clinicians, and care-givers has proven to be just the impetus this new medical librarian needs to be an effective team player. I embrace the role of librarian as activist! Thanks to the guidance and insights of all conference participants and armed with a relevant and engaging curriculum, I feel I am now prepared to help our community address some of the challenges which negatively impact patient outcomes.” Beverly Rossini and Geneva Bush Staggs, AHIP, Baugh Biomedical Library, University of South Alabama, Mobile, AL
“ The working conference was terrific! It was especially helpful to me to get to meet the pilot organizers and fellow pilot site librarians. I left the program with so many ideas about how to approach my training, what I could offer my health care providers when they are faced with the issue of health literacy with their patients. The program stimulated additional thoughts for future studies and future partnerships I could create within my community. I love the fact that this is another way that the library can be of service to our hospital and community.” Martha Prescott, AHIP, Health Sciences Library, Berkshire Medical Center, Pittsfield, MA
“I am thrilled to participate as a pilot training site for the MLA HIL Research Project. This has been a great opportunity to promote our library team and services within our two hospital system, beginning with obtaining a letter of commitment from our President/CEO. Participating in the HIL working conference gave me more ideas for services for our patients, their families and our community residents. Meeting everyone at the conference was a wonderful networking experience.” Holly Sheldon Kimborowicz, AHIP, Medical Library, Lake Hospital System, Painesville, OH
“The working conference was a great opportunity to meet others who share an interest in getting the word out about health literacy and to hear from many individuals with varied degrees of experience, knowledge and viewpoints of health literacy. We are excited to review the outcomes of this project, especially in regard to provider reaction and buy-in. This project has given our library the support, tools and encouragement to begin building one component of our consumer health offerings.” Kim Hart and Victoria Koch, AHIP, Medical Library, Billings Clinic, Billings, MT
"It was wonderful to meet all the librarians from the different sites. It gave us a lot of ideas on how we would go about providing the training. We have had 6 classes so far and over 40 participants in our first week!! The response has been overwhelming." – Mary Chipanshi and Jeff Mason, Health Science Library, Regina Qu’Appelle, Regina, SK, Canada
Medical Library Association
Last Updated: 2008 May 07