Consumer perspectives on health literacy in an elective surgery access unit

Sarah Neil, Kylie Murphy, Glenda Chapman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Background. Healthcare services should conscientiously ensure their health literacy environment (HLE) supports wayfinding to the service, and provides comprehensible health information which supports consumers to fully participate in healthcare. Despite the increasing focus on the importance of evaluating and enhancing the HLE, consumer perspectives about HLE barriers and enablers have received limited attention in the published literature.
Objective. This study aimed to identify barriers and enablers in the HLE of the Elective Surgery Access Unit (ESAU) at Albury Wodonga Health in regional south-east Australia.
Methods. Three consumers participated in the study. Two of these participants completed a wayfinding interview, verbalizing the barriers and enablers encountered during wayfinding from the nearest carpark to the ESAU. All participants completed written-information interviews, which involved reviewing samples of written materials for ESAU consumers. Two participants, who had been discharged, were also asked to comment on whether any important information was overlooked, from a post-discharge perspective. All interviews were voice recorded and transcribed. The data was categorized into inter-related themes within broader overarching domains.
Results. The helpfulness of the physical environment was one domain, involving three themes: signage, parking, and visual cues. The helpfulness of written information was another domain, involving three themes: comprehensiveness, readability and relevance. A third overlapping domain also emerged: the importance of verbal information-giving alongside written information. This domain also involved three themes: the importance of having a phone number to seek assistance, having a clearly identifiable reception area, and receiving in-person communication.
Conclusions. The insights of these three service users can inform health services trying to enhance access for everyone needing healthcare. If more Australian health services reviewed their HLE and published findings, a more complete picture of HLE barriers and enablers might emerge which could inform organizational improvements towards safer, more efficient, and higher quality healthcare.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-7
Number of pages7
JournalAsia Pacific Journal of Health Management
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 21 Jul 2019


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