Health Information Results in Positive Outcomes for Kidney Patients

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Kidney patients who understand their condition and treatment are more likely to receive better care than those who don't. Being 'health literate' allows patients to make determinations about the right course of treatment, ask questions when they are unsure of what the health care professional is telling them and explain elements of treatment to others.

Patients should know how to advocate for themselves and make appropriate decisions about their care. To do so, they must seek information from, resources such as KidneyBuzz, so they can understand all aspects of their condition and treatment choices. "It is also very important not be afraid to ask questions of physicians," said Dr. Kerry Willis, Senior Vice President for Scientific Activities.

What you don't know can in fact hurt you. For example, a recent study presented at the National Kidney Foundation's 2013 Spring Clinical Meetings showed a correlation between health literacy and medical outcomes, which in this case, meant getting a kidney transplant.

Researchers assessed health literacy in 92 kidney patients, and of  those 53 were formally placed on the transplant waiting list and 36 received a kidney transplant. The analysis showed that the level of health literacy was a predictor of whether the patients got transplanted.

Patients should realize that there are varying levels of health literacy, and it can impact the care they receive. They should obtain information about their condition(s) in a number of different forms and in ways that they can best understand. Kidney patients should ask doctors and other health care professionals follow-up questions to further clarify their understanding of the information they receive.

The study showed that continued education impacts medical outcomes, and therefore it is not surprising that you are more likely to be placed on the kidney transplant waiting list because of your ability to understand and better personally manage your medical condition.

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