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Facilitating Behavior Change With Low-literacy Patient Education Materials

  Objective: To describe a process for developing low-literacy health education materials that increase knowledge and activate patients toward healthier behaviors.

Methods: We developed a theoretically informed process for developing educational materials. This process included convening a multidisciplinary creative team, soliciting stakeholder input, identifying key concepts to be communicated, mapping concepts to a behavioral theory, creating a supporting behavioral intervention. One half of American adults lack the literacy and numeracy skills necessary to effectively obtain, process, and act on the information in most patient education materials, recognition, designing and refining materials, and assessing efficacy.
Results: We describe the use of this process to develop a diabetes self-management guide.
Conclusions: Developing low-literacy health education materials that will activate patients toward healthier behaviors requires attention to factors beyond reading level.