Part of health literacy is understanding information. But it is using information that makes
a difference in outcomes. Last time in this space we discussed new federal regulations from
the Consumer Products Safety Commission that aim to improve crib safety. That’s good
information for health promoters and healthcare professionals, but how can we offer this
information to parents in a way they can use it?
To use information, we first personalize it using interactive and reflective skills. When a
mother personalizes health info, she reflects on: What does this mean for me, in my
situation,in my family with my income, experience, education, values and living conditions?
And then: Now that I have this information, how do I want to respond? What do I want to do?
Information is most easily personalized and applied in context when it uses familiar words that
do not require judgment or background knowledge.
For example, if the info says, “Slats should be less than 3” apart”, it will pass the readability
tests, but the learner must know the meaning of slats, know that the symbol “ means inches,
and know or how to use a ruler to measure. And s/he must judge whether should means the
distance between the slats is a vital concern or just a suggestion, so that she can judge
whether it worth the trouble to go find the ruler or someone who knows how to measure.
I found few parents used the word slats. More parents used – and nearly all understood bars.
If the info uses something familiar and handy as a measure, no one needs to understand
inches or use measuring devices to check the space between bars.
Further, info is easier to personalize and put into action when it contains only what the
learner needs to know to take appropriate action. For example, a mother does not need to
know that the Consumer Product Safety Commission sets crib safety standards. She needs to
know how to tell if her crib is safe for her baby
info easy to use with a Crib Safety Check List.
Ideally, the checklist is the focus of a reflective
conversation on sleep safety, or it may be
used in self-directed learning. The checklist is
interactive and reflective; it requires the
learner to think and check Yes or No to three
statements. This takes the learning deeper
faster by using muscles in addition to the brain.
In the process, the learner teaches herself
to determine whether the crib is safe and what
makes it safe or not.
Here’s the part about distance between slats. No rulers or knowledge of measurement needed.
No polysyllabic words. The text sounds like something a person would actually say in
conversation. See the full Checklist here (choose Parents Guide and go to page 22).
The 2012 edition will add this item to reflect new safety standards:
· The sides of the crib do not fold down….