According to the AHQR, 2010 “Health Literacy Universal Precautions Toolkit”, we do not know which injured worker may have limited health literacy skills. Over one third of the adult US population has the limitation of not being able to read, hear, or understand health information.

The impact of having low health literacy skills by an injured worker can result in poor outcomes due to their inability to obtain, process and understand basic health information needed to make appropriate health decisions and services needed to treat the injury.
The practical approach is to “assume” everyone may have limited health literacy skills.

Dealing with an injured worker uses the same principals; the best method is to talk directly with the claimant by using plain language. Keep the conversation limited to 3-5 “key points” at one time. Be specific and concrete. Demonstrate using examples or draw pictures. Repeat and summarize. Use the “teach-back” method- have claimant repeat back to you their understanding of information. Be positive, hopeful, and empowering.

You can rely on your nurse case manager to be an asset in the health literacy and play a “key” role in the process to help your claimant obtain a positive and successful outcome.

Author: Deborah Goza, MS, RN, COHNS, CCM
Editor: Lisa Perry