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October 2016
Tapping the Power of Health Literacy
The Institute of Medicine defines health literacy as "The degree to which individuals have the capacity to obtain, process, and understand basic health information and services to make appropriate health decisions." At HPRC, we're expanding the idea to include a functional knowledge of health-related policies that affect our daily lives and that guide health equity efforts.  We call this "health policy literacy" or HPL for short.
But regardless of how you slice it,  health literacy  is essentially the
language of health. It facilitates the  empowerment of individuals and communities. Health literacy can inform individual health behaviors and it can help catalyze efforts to  transform health-related policies.   
October is Health Literacy Month - a perfect time to take stock of the importance of literacy for health consumers, health care providers, researchers, policy makers and other stakeholders.


HPRC Prepares to Launch the Health Policy Literacy Study

As paramount stakeholders in policy efforts designed to improve health outcomes and reduce health disparities, community members stand to gain or lose the most. While much is known about the important role of community in healthcare research, much less is known about the community role in informing and developing health policy. HPRC is preparing to launch the Health Policy Literacy Study (HPLS), creating the first-ever scientific tool for measuring what community members and policymakers know about health-related policy and how they act upon that information.

The study will also pilot an innovative civic engagement process - known as Mapping, Expression, Literacy, Blueprinting, and Action (or the MELBA Method) - designed to improve health policy literacy and apply it to a real-world policy challenge in Prince George's County. "We believe that the HPLS will help revolutionize how we think about the role of community in informing health policy. It will pave the way for developing education and training interventions that can boost 'health policy literacy' and strengthen civic engagement," said John Sankofa, HPLS project leader and alternate designee for the Health Literacy Job Analysis Task Force of the Institute for Healthcare Advancement. The HPLS study design is currently being reviewed by consortium partner-research scientists at the Morgan State University School of Community Health and Policy.  

Poll Shows Key Gaps in Child Health Concerns Among Adults

A new poll underscores the premise that parents - not researchers - know what health issues are most pressing for kids. While many researchers are tackling hot topics like childhood obesity, teen pregnancy and HIV/AIDS, the poll shows that black parents are much more concerned about health issues like racial inequity and school violence, suggesting that there's a disconnect between what researchers and community members view as being most important to child health.

The poll, conducted by researchers at C.S. Mott Children's Hospital, sampled over 2,000 adults. Results show a stark racial gap in child health concerns among adults.  More than 60% of black adults view "racial inequities" as a "big problem" versus only 17% of white parents. Gun violence, which does not appear on the top ten list for Hispanic or white adults, ranks seventh for black adults. Obesity, ranking as the number 2 and 3 concern, respectively, for Hispanic and white adults, ranked number 6 for black adults. Learn more here .

Rural Health Poses Unique Policy Challenges 

According to the  National Rural Health
Association (NRHA), the challenges faced by patients and providers in rural areas are "vastly different" than those in urban areas. A wide mix of factors drive rural health disparities, including "economic factors, educational shortcomings, lack of recognition by legislators and the sheer isolation of living in remote rural areas."According to the NRHA, rural residents tend to be poorer than urban residents; only 1 in 10 physicians practice in rural areas; and rural residents are less likely to have employer-provided coverage or prescription coverage. Differences in socioeconomic status and health care access mean different policy approaches are needed to improve and protect the health of rural citizens. Learn more here.

Federal Judge Blasts Hepatitis C Treatment Policy for Inmates  

In late August, U.S. District Judge Robert Mariani criticized Pennsylvania's policy for treating inmates with Hepatitis C.  Although the federal judge denied the plaintiff's request for treatment (due to a technicality that the wrong party was named in the complaint), the judge said that the state's current policy "prolongs the suffering of those who have been diagnosed with chronic hepatitis C." He added that the policy "allows the progression of the disease to accelerate so that it presents a greater threat" of related liver disease, cancer and death.  During court proceedings, a medical officer at Pennsylvania's Department of Corrections (DOC) testified that DOC's policy is to not provide treatment unless an inmate with hepatitis C has advanced cirrhosis and the presence of esophageal varices, which indicates that the inmate is at risk of bleeding to death.  In Region III's Pennsylvania, only 5 out of an estimated 6,000 inmates infected with Hepatitis C are receiving treatment. In the past two years New York increased its spending on treatment for inmates with hepatitis C by 350%. California jails and prisons provide such treatment on a large scale.

According to the CDC, roughly 1 in 3 of the nation's 2.2 million inmates are infected with hepatitis C.
Learn more here about hepatitis C and incarceration. Click here to learn more about prison health policy and hepatitis C.


Pennsylvania's Regional Health Literacy Coalition
A Healthy Understanding 

I n 2010, the University of Pittsburgh's Institute of Politics (IOP) hosted a town hall meeting to talk about 'health talk.'  Inspired by the importance of health literacy for strengthening health care access and improving outcomes, the IOP group soon began collaborating with regional health and human service leaders to create a force that would become known as the Regional Health Literacy Coalition (RHLC). The premise was simple: health information can be confusing, but it doesn't have to be. You can achieve what RHLC leaders call "a healthy understanding."

Today, the RHLC comprises dozens of health literacy support organizations - including the Allegheny County Department of Human Services, City of Pittsburgh Department of City Planning, Greater Pittsburgh Literacy Council, The Spanish Clinic at UPMC, Jewish Family and Children Services, Latino Family Center, and the VA Regional Office of the U.S. Department of Veteran's Affairs. The RHLC and its regional army of health literacy advocates helps patients and providers find ways to better understand each other. RHLC achieves this vital mission by working with non-profit organizations, government agencies and other entities in southwestern Pennsylvania; identifying best practices and providing community partners with health literacy tools; and developing meaningful policy paths for promoting health literacy. Learn more  here

Events Calendar

WHAT 2nd Annual National Health Disparities Elimination Summit and the W. Montague Cobb/NMA Networking Session
WHEN October 28-29, 2016
WHERE :   University of Connecticut,-Keller Auditorium, U Conn Health, Farmington, CT 06032 
Click here for more information.
WHAT APHA 2016 Annual Meeting and Exposition 
WHEN:  October 29-Nov 2, 2016
WHERE: Colorado Convention Center, 700 14th Street, Denver, CO 80202
Click here for additional information.

WHAT Addressing Health Disparities: The Role of Translational Research  
WHEN:   November 10-11, 2016
WHERE:  The Cal Turner Family Center for Student Education, 1011 21st Ave. N, Nashville, TN 37208
Click here for additional information.  HPRC will be onsite for poster presentation for the Health Policy Literacy Study (HPLS) and The 150 Years Later Project.

WHAT : WINTER POLICY FORUM   of the  Transdisciplinary Collaborative Center for Health Disparities Research
WHEN:  January 24, 2017, 9:00 Am - 11:00 AM
WHERE:  Morehouse School of Medicine, 720 Westview Drive SW, Atlanta, GA 30301
Click here for additional information.

Please feel free to contact the HPRC Team at 301.375.2021 with any questions.

Thank you,

The Health Policy Research Consortium

HPRC, a CTIS Inc. division, is supported by the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD) of the National Institutes of Health under award number #1U54MD008608-01. This content does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.

Health Policy Research Consortium
6401 Golden Triangle Drive, Ste. 310
Greenbelt, MD 20770
Phone: (301) 375-2021