STLCOP Receives MFH Grant to Improve Health Literacy
St. Louis College of Pharmacy
4588 Parkview Place * St. Louis, MO 63110 * www.stlcop.edu
St. Louis College of Pharmacy Receives Grant from the Missouri
Foundation for Health to Improve Health Literacy
ST. LOUIS (Nov. 30, 2011) – Increasingly, more attention is being focused on health literacy and how it impacts a patient’s health status and health outcomes. Earlier this year, a report by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services’ Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) found that 75 million English-speaking adults in the United States have limited health literacy, making it difficult to understand and use basic health information.
In an effort to address the problem in the St. Louis region by utilizing pharmacists, St. Louis College of Pharmacy has received a $199,382 grant from the Missouri Foundation for Health to strengthen the curricular components related to health literacy as well as student and pharmacist impact on patient health literacy in the community. The goal is to enhance pharmacist-patient interactions, such as oral and written communications with patients. It is designed to assist students in the professional portion of the six-year program (years three through six). Student learning will occur through hands-on practice in lab settings, with real patients, and via community outreach activities with Health Literacy Missouri, a local non-profit organization that helps health care professionals and patients communicate through trainings and community programs.
Tricia Berry, professor of pharmacy practice and director of experiential programs, said the grant exemplifies how pharmacy is changing and expanding through increased responsibilities for patient care.
“In addition to prescribing the right medication, the right dosage, and providing information and instructions, this is about pharmacists partnering with patients to ensure that they know how to use their medications properly, monitor them at home, and communicate with other health care providers. For a patient to properly utilize the recommended treatments, health literacy is critical,” Berry said. “Overall, better understanding will help patients to navigate the health care system, follow through on treatments, and make healthy lifestyle decisions and changes that improve outcomes.”
Study findings, like the AHRQ report, highlight the association between low health literacy and poor health outcomes. From a pharmacy perspective, the AHRQ indicates that medication errors are likely higher among patients with limited health literacy due to misunderstanding of medication labels and instructions and taking medications incorrectly.
“Even someone who is well educated can have difficulty understanding the health care system because it has its own language,” Berry said. “Sometimes it’s just difficult for patients to understand and comprehend what they need to do to have good health outcomes. It's a balancing act between patient skills and the demands of the system. Health care professionals and patients have a shared responsibility to communicate and work together to improve health outcomes.”
Missouri Foundation for Health: Missouri Foundation for Health (MFH) is an independent non-profit organization and the largest non-governmental funder of community health activities in the state. Founded in 2000, MFH serves 84 counties in Missouri as well as the city of St. Louis. Since its inception, MFH has distributed more than $430 million to health-focused organizations through grant making. Through its health policy activities, MFH serves as a leading, nonpartisan voice in Missouri regarding health issues and health reform.
St. Louis College of Pharmacy: Founded in 1864, St. Louis College of Pharmacy is one of the oldest and largest colleges of pharmacy in America. It integrates the liberal arts and sciences with a six-year professional curriculum leading to the Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm.D.) degree. The College admits students directly from high school and accepts transfer students from other colleges and universities. Approximately 1,265 students attend, and more than 72 percent of practicing pharmacists in the St. Louis metropolitan area are alumni.