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INTRODUCTION

QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER

  1. How would you define health literacy, and why is it important?

  2. Who are the decision-makers in physical therapy practice?

  3. Define knowledge translation.

CHAPTER-AT-A-GLANCE

This chapter will help you understand the following:

  • Integration of critically appraised research evidence with clinical expertise and the patient’s values and circumstances

  • Health literacy

  • Communication with decision-makers for physical therapy

  • Profile for evidence storage and communication

  • Communicating with critically appraised topics (CATs)

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Locating and appraising evidence is only a relevant process if it is integrated into your practice and if it is successfully communicated to others. Throughout this book, we provide examples of how to integrate best evidence into your physical therapy practice.

INTEGRATION OF RESEARCH, CLINICAL EXPERTISE, AND THE PATIENTS’ VALUES AND CIRCUMSTANCES

A part of the integration process is to communicate the evidence for best practice to other people who are making decisions regarding physical therapy. These decision-makers include patients, families, other professionals, managers, insurance companies, and makers of social policy. Each of these people or groups has a different set of questions, uses evidence for different purposes, and has different abilities to understand and effectively use what we communicate.

Health Literacy

Health literacy can be defined as our ability to understand the factors and contexts that relate to our health, both in terms of prevention and how to manage our health conditions. Health education is aimed at improving health literacy. Effective health education requires an understanding of the social, educational, and economic realities of people’s lives.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) created an extensive set of online educational modules accessible by the public, 1 which serve as one method to advance knowledge and skills for health literacy (see www.train.org/main/welcome). One of our goals as physical therapists is to improve the health literacy of all health-care decision-makers involved with physical therapy, beginning with our patients. To effectively communicate with our patients and their families, we must understand their comprehension of what we are saying, their ability to read materials that we give them, and their understanding of the value of our recommendations to them in the context of their lives. Effective communication requires carefully listening to our patients and incorporating time within the physical therapy sessions to determine the success of our communications. We may tell our patients about a home exercise program, we may write instructions for the program, and we may verbally stress the importance of our recommendations for their recovery. However, effective communication requires that we listen to our patients describe their home program; tell us which is better, written instructions or pictures; and tell us the importance of our recommendations in their everyday lives. Understanding a patient’s reading level ensures that any written instructions are appropriate. A patient may not be able to read or may have a limited ability to do ...

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