Original Publication
Open Access

Geriatric Health Literacy Workshop

Published: April 19, 2013 | 10.15766/mep_2374-8265.9395

Included in this publication:

  • HLW Facilitator's Guide.doc
  • HLW Lecture.ppt
  • HLW Postworkshop Questions.doc
  • HLW Preworkshop Questions.doc
  • HLW RetroPre Postworkshop Questions.doc
  • HLW Role Playing Case SW.doc
  • HLW Role Playing Cases APN.doc
  • HLW Role Playing Cases Physician.doc
  • HLW Tips Delivering Feedback.docx
  • SAM Doak.docx

To view all publication components, extract (i.e., unzip) them from the downloaded .zip file.

Editor's Note: This publication predates our implementation of the Educational Summary Report in 2016 and thus displays a different format than newer publications.


Anticipated demographic changes, including aging and minority status, in the next decade demand that healthcare professionals-in-training develop the skills necessary to provide culturally competent care for some of America’s most vulnerable patients, minority older adults. Communication skills are especially important in the care for older adults, who are at particularly high risk of having low health literacy. Low health literacy may lead to increased morbidity and mortality, and increased healthcare costs. Medical education strategies to combat low health literacy may include raising awareness of this issue, enhancing provider communication skills, and identifying characteristics of culturally appropriate patient handout materials. These objectives are the backbone of this 2.5 hour Low Health Literacy workshop for interdisciplinary trainees, including social work, nursing and medical students.

The following data has been gathered on 29 physicians and physicians-in-training who participated the health literacy workshop. Twenty-one are University of Chicago Medicine Interns and Residents, and eight are a combination of Family Medicine Fellows, Attending Physicians, and Family Medicine Residents at Cook County Hospital in Chicago. Three results emerged from the workshop:

By University of Chicago residents, 100% completion of direct observation using the teach-back method in 3 patient encounters per learner.
By University of Chicago residents, revision of patient handout material resulted in lowering the reading level from grade 11.5 to grade to 6.3 (N=21).
Statistically significant improvement in self-assessment of communication skills in each of the 5 domains among all learners (N=29). Using a 5 point scale (5=excellent and 1=poor), learners rated their skill explaining: change in medication dose; a new diagnosis; rationale for ordering a diagnostic test; and referral to a specialist.

Communication skills:

N Pre-course
mean rating Post-course
mean rating p value
Explain dose change 29 3.41 4.15 p<0.001
Explain new diagnosis 29 3.34 4.05 p<0.001
Explain diagnostic test 29 3.24 3.95 p<0.001
Explain referral to specialist 27 3.41 3.91 p<0.001
Select patient education materials 27 2.92 3.87 p<0.001

Educational Objectives

  1. To describe the anticipated demographic changes in the US over the next 50 years.
  2. To recognize the impact of low health literacy on geriatric patients.
  3. To explain the relationship between health literacy and health care disparities.
  4. To demonstrate the “teach-back” method.
  5. To edit patient handout materials for low health literacy patients.

Author Information

  • Seema Limaye, MD: Jesse Brown VA Medical Center
  • Nancy Hikoyeda, DrPH, MPH: Stanford University
  • Gwen Yeo, PhD: Stanford University
  • Patricia MacClarence, AM, LCSW: University of Chicago
  • Aliza R. Baron, MA: University of Chicago

None to report.

None to report.

Prior Presentations
Geriatrics Health Literacy Workshop. Presented at: Reynold's Foundation National Meeting of Geriatric Medical Educators; October 2011.

S Limaye. Geriatrics Health Literacy Workshop. Presented at: University of Chicago Medical Education Day; November 2010.


  1. Farrell TW. Review of a Geriatric Health Literacy Workshop for Medical Students and Residents. JAGS 59:2347-2349, 2011.
  2. Reynold’s Foundation National Meeting of Geriatric Medical Educators Presenter: “Geriatrics Health Literacy Workshop”, October 2011.
  3. S Limaye. Geriatrics Health Literacy Workshop. University of Chicago Medical Education Day, November 2010.


Limaye S, Hikoyeda N, Yeo G, MacClarence P, Baron A. Geriatric health literacy workshop. MedEdPORTAL. 2013;9:9395. https://doi.org/10.15766/mep_2374-8265.9395