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Health Literacy and the Life Sciences

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Health literacy has a positive impact on clinical trial participation, and plays an important role in the life sciences. Can health literacy improve transparency? Join Darshan Kulkarni as he discusses the steps your company can take to promote health literacy among its patients. We’ll also look at how to structure clinical trials so that they’re easier for patients to navigate.

Can Health Literacy Boost Transparency in the Life Sciences?

Transparency is highly beneficial in the life sciences—leading to more engagement among patients and lower dropout rates for clinical trials. The American College of Physicians defines transparency as the act of making available to the public information on the health care system’s quality, efficiency, and consumer experience with care. To encourage this kind of transparency, life science companies should focus on ensuring that their patients have access to understandable health resources and clinical trials, and also foster an environment in which their employees engage in health literate practices.

Making Clinical Trials Understandable to Subjects

One way that life science companies can promote health literacy is by structuring their clinical trials so that patients can easily navigate them. This means that companies must first examine their health resources and clinical trials to ensure that patients can understand them. If certain materials prove too dense, companies should focus on re-working them so they are more comprehensible to their patients. Adapting health materials and resources will develop a clinical trial that patients can be truly engaged with and understand. By creating more health literate clinical trials, companies will probably experience a decrease in their patient dropout rate and higher rates of participation among subjects. Overall, the value of strengthening health literacy in clinical trials is worth the effort for companies, particularly if it means keeping study subjects and increasing engagement levels. 

How Should Companies Encourage Health Literacy in Employees?

Health literacy is not strictly the domain of patients—it also enables employees to navigate the health care system more easily. To encourage health literacy skills among employees, businesses should work on integrating health literate practices into their core structure. Health literate practices can include anything from sharing written medical information to providing detailed explanations of health benefits to employees. By developing the health literacy of their employees, companies can indirectly create an environment that encourages health literacy and accessibility among customers. If employees are health literate, they will probably develop trials that implement health literate practices, making them more accessible for patients.


Although transparency is an ongoing concern in the life science industry, companies can address this problem by ensuring that their resources promote health literacy. Companies should consult with a legal expert to ensure that their health resources are fully accessible for patients.

If you have any other questions about how to communicate with the FDA or how your past and/or current FDA communications affect you and your business goals, reach out to me on Twitter, LinkedIn, or send me a message here.

I also host a podcast called DarshanTalks, a show that discusses newsworthy FDA issues and how they apply to bringing a product to market – and keeping it there. From patient centricity in clinical trials to the government shutdown to CRISPR and bioethics to why big data is doomed to fail in healthcare, we’ve got quite the list of topics to review! Listen to the podcast on Google Podcasts or on Apple Podcasts.

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