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    October is Health Literacy Month

    by Ngozi Osuagwu, MD | October 16th, 2022

    October is Health Literacy Month

    About two years ago, I discussed my issue with the mechanic. I feel like they speak a different language. I go to the mechanic for a particular reason, and it seems they always find additional issues in the car. Two years ago, it was my car. However, last week, it was my husband’s car. He went for an oil change and returned with a list of other things that needed to be done. I did not bother looking at the list because I knew I could not understand.

    Every time I go to the mechanic, I am reminded of how difficult it may be for people dealing with the healthcare system. I know that medical professionals speak a language that is so foreign for some that you almost need a medical degree or know someone with a medical degree to help you. October is Health Literacy Month. The purpose of this month is to promote the importance of understandable health information. I recently came across this definition of health literacy by Helen Osbourne – Health literacy is a shared responsibility between patients (or anyone on the receiving end of the health communication, including the lay public) and providers (or anyone on the giving end, including agencies that provide health information). Each must communicate in ways that the other can understand.

    One of my favorite tools to make sure that I get the information I need when I go to the physician’s office is Ask Me 3™. These are three questions that must be answered before you leave the office.

    • What is my main problem?
    • What do I need to do?
    • Why is it important for me to do this? 

    Here is an example of how it works, especially since October is also Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

    What is my main problem? You are over 40 years old, and you need your mammogram.

    What do I need to do? I need you to schedule an appointment to get your mammogram. If you have insurance, a mammogram is free. If you do not have insurance, you can take advantage of the National Breast and Cervical Cancer Detection Program (NBCCEDP). This program provides breast and cervical cancer screenings and diagnostic services to low-income, uninsured, and underinsured women across the United States.

    Why is it important for me to do this? A mammogram is a screening test for breast cancer, meaning it is a test that is used to find breast cancer before you have symptoms. We know that if we can find breast cancer early, we have a better chance of treating you and ensuring that you will be cancer free after treatment.

    Please click here for additional information on other questions to ask your healthcare practitioner.

    2 Responses to “October is Health Literacy Month”

    1. Linda K. Jackso says:

      As always,timely, timely, timely information! Thank you soooo much!!!!

    Leave a Reply

    Secure Your Copy of Letters to My Sisters by Dr. Ngozi Osuagwu.
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    The book discusses common gynecological and women’s health issues in a series of witty and entertaining letters. These letters, all educational, offer suggestions on what approaches to take in tackling the medical problems that typically bring women to an ob/gynecologist. The letters are spiced with art, a poem and quotes. Although its emphasis is on gynecology and women’s health, it touches on some other medical issues that make women visit their doctors.

    The second half of the book briefly discusses the most common gynecological conditions and also provides an overview of sexually transmitted infections. A list of annotated websites dealing with the different topics in the book is provided for the reader who wants to pursue each subject in depth.




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