Both efforts aim to increase the health literacy-the ability to read, understand, and act upon healthcare information-of the state's Medicaid population. According to the National Academy on an Aging Society, those with low health-literacy skills are less likely to obtain preventive care and more likely to be hospitalized and have poor health outcomes.
"Solving a problem of this complexity requires a better understanding of how medical outcomes are affected by appropriate patient education and indi- viduals' involvement in their own care," says Karen Katen, president of Pfizer Global Pharmaceuticals. "Energetic public/private partnerships represent the best opportunity to gather that kind of information."The University of South Florida College of Public Health, in conjunction with the Agency for Health Care Administration, will conduct the Florida Health Literacy Study at 28 community centers through June 30, 2003. Researchers will evaluate patients' class attendance, the effectiveness of interactive educational materials, and the results of behavior modification and disease-management programs based on changes in patients' control over blood sugar, blood pressure levels, knowledge of those conditions, and self-care. The study will help gauge the effect of Pfizer's partnership with Florida in educating patients to self-manage their chronic conditions and reduce the state's healthcare costs.