Project Description

The report for this project has been published at:

The Health Quality and Safety Commission (HQSC) has developed, trialled, and evaluated a health literacy learning package aimed at New Zealand health professionals to support them to:

  • Acknowledge and understand how health literacy impacts on medication safety
  • Understand adult learning theory and its implications for patient safety
  • Raise awareness of their own communication styles including the use of jargon, acronyms and technical terms when communicating with consumers
  • Provide easy to implement techniques, skills and ideas that can be put into practice in the clinical setting, especially with consumers who may have poor health literacy levels.

The HQSC contracted Malatest International to provide the evaluation component of the project. The demonstration project was based in two community pharmacies. The evaluation included pre- and post-demonstration visits to the pharmacies, interviews with the pharmacists and pharmacy teams, surveys of pharmacy staff and interviews with consumers. A national survey of pharmacists was also carried out to explore attitudes to health literacy and perceived training needs.

The recommendations from the Evaluation Report are:

  • Health literacy education and training should be extended as there is a demand and a need. The sector needs to discuss and develop strategies about how access to training can be provided nationally as pharmacy staff will need support to develop their skills.
  • A universal precautions approach to health literacy (working with all consumers to identify if they have health literacy needs) should be endorsed as an effective way of identifying and meeting the needs of consumers.
  • Encourage pharmacists to use the model developed in the project of ‘Three steps to health literacy’: Step 1 Find out what people know, Step 2 Build health literacy skills and knowledge, Step 3 Check you were clear.
  • Emphasise that telling a consumer or giving information to consumers doesn’t guarantee they have understood the information.
  • Provide consumer education about the responsibility pharmacy staff have in asking consumers questions to ensure medication safety.

The Pharmacy Guild and College of Pharmacists have met with the Commission to discuss next steps including:

  • Making the resources available and developing additional resources such as videos.
  • Developing resources for pharmacies to give consumers to promote the idea of having conversations.
  • Looking at ways to further incorporate health literacy education and training into professional development programmes.