Supportive Care

The Nurse’s Role in Health Literacy of Patients With Cancer

Deborah Ballard

Jill Hill

health literacy, patient/public education, universal precautions, teach-back method
CJON 2016, 20(3), 232-234. DOI: 10.1188/16.CJON.232-234

Patients with cancer are often faced with complex diagnoses that require decision making in a highly stressful environment. The role of the healthcare team is to ensure that patients have the information, tools, and resources needed to make informed decisions. However, low health literacy is a common and undervalued factor in the outcomes of patients, particularly those with cancer.

At a Glance

  • An individual’s health literacy depends on various factors, such as education, culture, and complexity of the information.
  • Oncology nurses are in a unique position to role model and apply best practices for health literacy using evidence-based oral and written communication strategies with their patients.
  • Implementing the fundamentals of universal precautions and the teach-back method are effective deterrents to the negative outcomes associated with low health literacy.
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