Anchorage seminar will focus on better 'health literacy'

Every day, people confront situations that involve life-changing decisions about their health. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 9 out of 10 adults have difficulty using the health information that is routinely available in health care facilities, retail outlets, media and communities.

This challenging situation will be the focus of daylong seminar at Providence Medical Center in Anchorage on Aug. 6.

“Bridging Literacy and Communication Differences for Better Health Outcomes,” will feature nationally-recognized experts Helen Osborne and Barry Weiss, MD, who will frame the challenges and offer practical strategies for health service professionals and interested community members. Interactive breakout sessions will focus on strategies for health professionals or for the special populations of immigrant/refugees and people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

There also will be a breakout session dedicated to elder health literacy, where elders and people who work with elders are invited to attend. The event is meant to be for both health service professionals and members of the public, event organizers say.

Breakdowns of communication have been cited as contributors to health disparities and interactions between older adults and health care professionals are influenced by the expectations each party brings to the encounter. The breakout session will provide tips for health care professionals and elders on improving health care interactions and communication. Communication strategies include recognizing and avoiding stereotypes, communicating medical terminology using plain language, building rapport, and use of teach-back techniques.

Specific strategies for Alaska Native elders will be addressed and the session will include time for practice and discussion.

Nursing, medical and social work continuing education (CE) contact hours may be available for the seminar.

Event hours are 8 a.m. to 5:15 p.m., with a $5 lunch card included with the cost of registration. Cost for registration is $50, discounted to $25 for seniors. Fee waivers are also available if cost is a barrier.

Representatives from local agencies will be staffing tables to provide handouts and answer questions.

The seminar is sponsored by the Anchorage Health Literacy Collaborative, Providence Medical Center, UAA Health Sciences and UAA Center for Human Development.

For more information, call Rain VanDenBerg, 264-6281, or email her at

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