Improving Health Knowledge and Behaviors

It’s been a busy year for HCF and our grantees. Before we bid farewell to an eventful year, our HCF associates take a look back at significant events and projects that helped make 2012 a productive year.

On day five of our year in review, HCF Vice President Rhonda Holman discusses why the Foundation has invested in health literacy to improve the health of the uninsured and underserved.

For a long time most of us have been fairly passive about our health and health care. We gave little thought to what we ate and drifted into couch potato lifestyles. We viewed doctors as authorities from on high and asked them very few questions, even when their medical instructions to us might as well have been delivered in Old English. Once we developed an ailment, we depended on medications and surgical procedures to fix us.

The new direction of health care is patient-centered, and it specifically places a premium on coordination, with rewards and penalties that make patient engagement a must. Patients/clients will need to do their critical share of the work, and providers will need to get better at helping us to do it.

That’s why the Health Care Foundation cares about health literacy, which is essentially the amount of involvement a patient has in making his or her own health decisions. This can even include adequate access to general health information.

In the past year, HCF has invested $210,000 in a Health Literacy Initiative to support adoption and assessment of promising practices to improve health knowledge and behaviors of safety-net patients. These practices also target participating safety-net providers to integrate effective health literacy into their practices.

Studies show that limited health literacy is a greater problem for older adults, those with limited education, minorities, the poor and those with limited English proficiency — groups that comprise a significant portion of the HCF target population and the patients and clients of area safety net organizations and social service agencies.

Through HCF’s initiative, funded organizations will be selected through an RFP process that will launch with a one-day conference organized by Health Literacy Missouri (HLM).

The one-day conference will be Feb. 12 at the Kauffman Foundation and will promote the role and value of health literacy toward improving patient knowledge and engagement. Conference presentations will cover health literacy research, evidence-based practices, processes and outcomes of highly successful and less successful MFH demonstration projects, and the details of the HCF Initiative.

As we enter the New Year, please stay tuned for more details on this conference and funding opportunities to help improve health literacy for our service area.

Health Care

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HCF's Local Health Buzz Blog aims to discuss health and health policy issues that impact the uninsured and underserved in our service area. To submit a blog, please contact HCF Communications Officers, Jennifer Sykes, at


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