Nurses need to tailor how they deliver healthcare “jargon” to the parents of children with long-term conditions, depending on how “health literate” they are, according to US nurse research.
They found less well educated parents were confused by jargon and wished for information to be communicated in simple language, broken down into key points, which was repeated.
“There’s a need for creativity and the bottom line is that it has to be patient-driven”
However, in contrast, parents deemed to have “adequate health literacy” said they wanted comprehensive information communicated through ongoing dialogue.
The authors of the study said their overall message for clinicians was that education and communication with parents “must be learner-driven, not instructor-driven”.
For their study, the researchers recruited 162 parents, all of whom had a child with type 1 diabetes and had seen a diabetes educator at least once during the previous year.
Participants completed a survey that looked at measures including general clarity and explanation of conditions and care, as well as parent concerns. A smaller group then agreed to be interviewed.
Study author Terri Lipman, assistant dean for community engagement and a professor of nursing of children at the University of Pennsylvania’s school of nursing, said: “One of the themes that emerged was, ‘teach me at my pace’.
“Parents with low health literacy said, ‘I need to be told the same thing many times. Don’t rush me’. Parents with adequate health literacy said, ‘You need to be flexible, you need to teach at my pace. The conversation needs to move more quickly’,” she said.
She noted that, to the surprise of the researchers, “both sets of parents were dissatisfied and frustrated”.
Professor Lipman suggested that health professionals tended to believe they spoke too quickly or used too much medical jargon.
Nurses need to tailor delivery of health ‘jargon’ to parents
Therefore, they aimed somewhere in the middle, and tried to deliver their message at an average pace and a basic, but not oversimplified, level.
“We think that we’ll do our best educating most people, but we really satisfy few,” she said.
She said the findings showed the need to assess the health literacy of each family and parent, and for nurses to be creative in their communication methods.
For example, she highlighted e-learning tools that a parent could watch at home when the children are asleep, and speed it up, slow it down or re-watch it as many times as necessary.
“Maybe it’s a combination,” she said. “There is face-to-face teaching and then families are able to go home with an e-learning tool that is very visual and has a lot of demonstrations.
She added: “There’s a need for creativity and the bottom line is that it has to be patient-driven.”
The study was recently published in the Journal of Health Communication.