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At a conference like today's "Improving Health Literacy in Los Angeles," which focused on the sensitive issue of improving health literacy in some of Los Angeles' underserved communities, racial stereotypes should be a far-away concern.

But when the time came for tables of conference attendees to report back to the whole after doing a group interactive activity, it became clear that even the most well-meaning and forward-thinking health professionals have far to go.

jessicapauline's picture

The focus of today's conference, Improving Health Literacy in Los Angeles, was on ways in which medical providers can improve the community's understanding of health concerns and health care.

We are “focusing on expanding health literacy in L.A. and the western region,” said Ellen Iverson, an assistant professor of pediatrics at the USC Keck School of Medicine, who introduced the conference panelists.

jessicapauline's picture

For journalists, the topic of health care disparities — particularly in Los Angeles — is a familiar concept. Exploring the discrepencies in care between various socioeconimic and ethnic groups often leads down a road of dismal statistics and frustrating realities. 

But what happens if we refocus our gaze away from the patients and onto the providers?

jessicapauline's picture

As one of the largest, most expansive cities in the country, Los Angeles faces huge challenges in getting out health-related messages that resonate with the city's myriad cultures. Lack of health literacy, or having trouble understanding either the benefits or the details of modern, often Western medicine, has ripple effects, including patients being less likely to seek preventive care and more likely to use hospital emergency rooms for routine medical care. 

jessicapauline's picture

As an intriguing community forum on health literacy gets underway at USC today, check out these great resources for learning about the subject provided by one of the forum’s organizers, Ellen Iverson, an assistant pediatrics at the USC Keck School of Medicine and deputy director of the Community, Health Outcomes, and Intervention Research Program at the Saban Research Institute at Childrens Hospital Los Angeles.

Barbara Feder Ostrov's picture

Blythe Bernhard and Jeremy Kohler at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch have launched a series of stories called “Who protects the patients?”

The first in the series, http://www.stltoday.com/stltoday/news/stories.nsf/st

William Heisel's picture

This week, several newspapers across California published my investigative series focusing on the threats posed by nitrates in groundwater. The full stories with accompanying sidebar can be read here, along with multimedia resources that include video, photo slideshows, and a three-part series on nitrates by KQED Radio.

Julia Scott's picture

Melvin Baron has spent his career educating the public about health and medicine, first as a pharmacist and then as a USC Associate Professor of Clinical Pharmacy. He’s 77 now, and he confesses to some frustration with the handouts that pharmacists and doctors use to inform patients about health and medicine.

“Much of what we give you is lousy,” he told me. “It’s a lot of words. Most of it is way above the audience. It doesn’t resonate and it’s boring.”

Michelle Levander's picture

Experts say that nitrate pollution is a major threat to California future water supply, while some cities already spend millions of dollars to treat nitrates in groundwater. Second in a two-part series produced in collaboration with California Watch and KQED Radio.

http://www.californiawatch.org/remedies-nitrate-contamination-anything-quick-cheap

Julia Scott's picture

The water supply of more than two million Californians has been exposed to harmful levels of nitrates over the past 15 years – a time marked by lax regulatory efforts to contain the colorless and odorless contaminant. First in a two-part series produced in collaboration with California Watch and KQED Radio.

http://www.californiawatch.org/nitrate-contamination-spreading-california-communities

Julia Scott's picture

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