Patient Education: Addressing Cultural Diversity and Health Literacy Issues

Margaret Chang, MN, RN; Ann E. Kelly, MSN, APRN, BC


Urol Nurs. 2007;27(5):411-417. 

In This Article

Abstract and Introduction


Patient education is essential in assisting patients to live with illness and to have improved health outcomes. Patient education is also one of the most satisfying aspects of care provided by professional nurses. Additionally, patient education is a qualifier in professional and accreditation standards. The teaching-learning process, how culture influences learning and teaching strategies, and health literacy issues that affect patient education are reviewed.


Effective patient/family teaching and documented evidence of learning are essential to improved health outcomes for patients, particularly in this era of ever-increasing patient acuity and ever-decreasing length of inpatient stay or service provided. Another reason for placing emphasis on patient education is the fact that teaching patients is highly valued by nurses, especially staff nurses, and brings professional satisfaction in practice (McClure & Hinshaw, 2002). Furthermore, health teaching is included in the American Nurses Association Nursing: Scope and Standards of Practice (2004) and is one of the grading criteria used by the Joint Commission on Accreditation for Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO, 2006), which is now called The Joint Commission.

To facilitate learning, nurses must implement effective patient teaching strategies. This process includes assessing and prioritizing learning needs, assessing learning styles, and implementing teaching strategies designed to address identified learning needs. As part of this process, cultural beliefs and literacy issues must be addressed. Congruence between teaching and cultural values is necessary for successful teaching outcomes.


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