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660D Health Literacy Among Veterans-Blog

by Brandon L. Ignatowski & Robert Leumaga


The drive of this blog is to encourage awareness and resolution about the Social Determinant of
Health (SDOH) problem regarding the limited health literacy among the veteran population.
Veterans have access to one of great health care system, especially the government sponsor VA
Healthcare. But health literacy limitation contributed to many health problems facing these
veterans. The CSUSB’s MPH students are one of the catalysts to put a direct voice and action in
addressing the poor health literacy among veterans in the spotlight. Whereas, health
education, promotion and counseling, and other professional guidelines are greatly needed, via
simple language, reassure the veterans can understand health issues and health system. Thus,
arming them with the health literacy ability to make vital health decisions, contributed in
improving their welfare.

Poor health literacy can


make the physician seem
unclear in what he/she is
saying to the veteran
patient.
• Inadequate/limited health
“Impaired veteran &
literacy = poorer health-
related knowledge (e.g.
physician communication”
difficulty understanding
written medical information)
(Green et al., 2011)...

• impacts their preventative


health behavior = poorer
health status.
• Veterans with deprived
health literacy are more
likely to have chronic health
conditions (Bruss, Thome, &
Denis, 2014)

...this leads to many health

disparities among the veteran

population...

1
Although veterans have
access to health care,
they regularly suffer
from various health
inequalities. Among
veterans, roughly 29%
have low health literacy.
This compares to ~ 13%
in the U.S. population
(Bruss, Thome, & Denis,
2014).

Veterans that have inadequate health literacy are not as likely to participate in
their decision making about their health, but that does not mean that they differ
in the amount of trust they have for their physicians (Rodriguez et al.,
2013). Increasing their health literacy can help them make their own decisions
about their health they see fit.

Older veterans (age >65 years) ~ 5 times more likely to have low health literacy
when compared to younger veterans (Chew et al., 2006).

 more likely to use emergency medical services &


resources-contribute to ER high & increased cost
 high cost care – financial burdens
 poor functional status
 impaired veteran patient communication
 overwhelming ‘big health decisions’ to be made