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'Simplify medical information for lung patients'

Did you know that more than one-third of the Dutch lung patients can't fully understand online medical information? This alarming fact was revealed by a recent survey among Dutch lung patients. As a result of the survey, a Dutch lung patient association advocates more practical support for people with low health literacy.


'Health literacy' means that you can obtain, read, understand and use healthcare information. These are very important skills, because they ensure you are able to make appropriate health decisions and follow instructions for treatment. NIVEL, a Dutch research institute, now discovered that a lot of lung patients have problems with finding and understanding online medical information. On top of that, a lot of patients have problems with assessing whether information is trustworthy and relevant for their own situation.

According to Hendrien Witte, director of the patient association of the Dutch Lung Fund, lung patients would like to be in charge of their own disease. 'People want to make their own choices about their treatment', says Witte. 'But good knowledge is essential for making good choices. Right now, there is not enough understandable information for lung patients.'

Apart from understanding online information, some lung patients also have problems with understanding instructions for the use of medication, following the orders of doctors and filling in medical forms. Because a part of the Dutch lung patients have difficulties with these skills, the Dutch Lung Fund wants to create practical support for people with low health literacy. They want to do this by creating tailor-made information materials that will be developed together with patients in the next couple of years.

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