Long-term effects of a health literacy curriculum for medical students

Clifford Coleman, Sylvia Peterson-Perry, Tracy Bumsted

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

8 Scopus citations

Abstract

BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES: Although there are reports of short-term benefits of health literacy curricula for improving health care professionals’ communication with patients, no studies have included long-term follow-up. We sought to determine (1) whether a pre-clerkship health literacy training can improve medical students’ perceived knowledge and intended behaviors vis-a-vis communication with patients who have low health literacy, (2) the longevity of any such impact at 12 months, and (3) the impact of a follow-up training 1 year later. METHODS: We conducted pre-and post-training assessments of selfperceived knowledge and perceived and planned behavior following a health literacy training for first-year medical students, with a 12-month follow-up training and repeat pre/post assessment. RESULTS: Among 48 pre-clerkship students, improvement was reported on 10 of 12 items following the Year 1 training. At 12-month follow-up, prior to the Year 2 training, ratings on 8 of 10 items had regressed to baseline levels. Nine of these items again improved significantly after the Year 2 training. Students were asked after both trainings if they felt they had overestimated their understanding of health literacy; significantly more students agreed with this statement following the Year 2 training than the Year 1 training. CONCLUSIONS: Among a cohort of pre-clerkship medical students, improvements in perceived knowledge and planned behavior vis-a-vis health literacy training largely did not persist at 12-month follow-up. Efforts to teach medical students about health literacy principles and practices should include a longitudinal or integrated format, rather than a one-time lecture format. and planned behaviors for commu­nicating with patients.7,8 However, no studies have included long-term follow-up, and neurobiological research suggests that long-term retention of knowledge is greatly enhanced with repeated exposure and active engagement of the learner.9 We aimed to determine: (1) whether a pre-clerkship health literacy training can improve medical students’ perceived knowledge and intended behaviors vis-à-vis communication with patients who have low health literacy, (2) the longevity of any such impact at 12 months, and (3) the impact of a follow-up training 1 year later.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)49-53
Number of pages5
JournalFamily Medicine
Volume48
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2016

    Fingerprint

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Family Practice

Cite this