A key aspect of health literacy is an individuals' ability to make “informed health-related decisions and actions.”1
But what exactly is an informed decision? Well, it occurs when an individual adequately understands the risks and benefits of their options and determines which choice best aligns with their goals.
In other words, a patient makes the decision that is right for them.
As healthcare organizations, it’s our role to provide information that will help inform patient decisions. Let’s look at how one of our Advanced Hepatocellular Carcinoma (HCC) books works to do just this.
What You Should Know about Advanced HCC
Receiving an advanced HCC diagnosis can be extremely troubling, and navigating everything that happens after the words “You have Advanced Hepatocellular Carcinoma” is even harder.
For starters, the name of this disease doesn’t make anything clearer—you need to know Latin or have a medical degree to decipher that it’s a type of liver cancer! Beyond the complex name, here are a couple of other things that further complicate the disease:
- Patients are commonly dealing with other health conditions, like cirrhosis(SIR-OH-SIS) — Chronic liver disease that results in liver dysfunction and scarring; commonly caused by alcohol abuse, hepatitis B and hepatitis C infections, and fatty liver (non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH)).
- The majority of the patient population are older and, therefore, are at higher risk of having low health literacy.
- Many different factors influence treatment decisions.
- Unfortunately, patients with advanced HCC tend to have poor prognoses(PRAHG-NO-SIS) — A predicted outcome for groups of patients.
This is a lot for a patient and their loved ones to deal with! It’s up to us to help them find their way.
How You Can Help These Patients
To get these patients on the right path to face their diagnosis, we first need to help them understand it. We need to explain what's already happened along their journey and what's to come. Doing so not only helps patients deal with the confusion and unknown of their new diagnosis, but it also helps them make informed decisions that are right for them—an essential aspect of health literacy.
To help patients with advanced HCC, we created: Understanding Advanced HCC: What it is, how it’s treated, and what happens next. We designed this book to provide the most important information about HCC and care planning, promoting the reader’s health literacy.
What Makes This Book Special?
Understanding Advanced HCC gives patients the knowledge they need to navigate the journey ahead by providing a basic understanding of the different types of liver cancer, treatment and therapy options, and factors that might influence treatment planning. It will become the foundation for all future conversations and decisions, allowing patients to jump into the specifics of their case with their doctor.
Ultimately, this book aims to encourage patient follow-through with their care plan by providing clarity around the disease and practical tips moving forward.
- Health Literacy in Healthy People 2030. https://health.gov/our-work/healthy-people/healthy-people-2030/health-literacy-healthy-people-2030. Accessed December 22, 2020.