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Low Health Literacy Shadows the Gluten-free

Journal of Gluten Sensitivity Winter 2014 Issue


Image: CC--Sebastien Wiertz

Celiac.com 12/08/2016 - New gluten-free information continually appears on the scene through journals like this one and others. It helps direct many towards a more robust life. Millions of people however are left in the shadows, confused and frustrated because they have low health literacy; lacking the ability to access, understand, and process health information and services. As would be expected, their healthcare decisions can then be faulty, leading to potentially harmful consequences and the delayed diagnoses which we see so commonly with celiac disease and gluten sensitivity.

Over 90 million adults in the U.S. struggle with low health literacy. Nearly 9 out of 10 adults lack the skills to manage their health and prevent disease according to the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services. In rural areas, the rate is even higher due to an older, poorer, and less educated population who are more likely to suffer from chronic health conditions.

A substantial part of the population therefore remains under-served and is unaware that a change in their food choices can dramatically improve their health. And we can't help them by talking louder, or by explaining things in longer, lovelier sentences, or by repeating the same message over and over. We can start communicating with those with low health literacy by using simple-English (plain language), in short sentences. We can then advance their new understanding by finding another way to repeat the same thought; through video, by using well-conceived illustrations, audio, and/or simplified charts and graphs.

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The problem is substantial. I've decided to be part of the solution. I've therefore produced Gordon's Simple-English Gluten-free Glossary and placed it on Amazon as an e-publication. I've set up a blog, gordonsglossary.wordpress.com, so we can discuss words, phrases and definitions. As an e-publication, the glossary is accessible to most and affordable by all at 99 cents.

This is a place to start. The gluten-free community has arrived late on the healthcare scene; but we can lead the rest of the world in this important area of healthcare communication.

Check out the glossary. Refer to it. Participate in its expansion. Recommend it to others.

Celiac.com welcomes your comments below (registration is NOT required).












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