The Institute for Healthcare Advancement is hosting the 20th Annual Virtual Health Literacy Conference on May 25-27, 2021. You can register for free and learn by attending live sessions on your device.
My contribution to the conference agenda is a poster about Constructive Health Competence (CHC), which combines health literacy with other useful skills that are likewise lacking across most of the population.
An image of the poster follows this text. The image is rather large and perhaps will be slow to open. Those who wish to read it can open it large in the browser or download it. In the conference, the poster is accompanied by my voice-over. I am inserting the script of that here.
This poster acknowledges an Achilles’ heel of health literacy. The crazy assumption that folks will understand and use the information they read.
That’s not true of many people. The average adult in our midst reads like a child in middle school. Half of all adults can’t even do that. Others read better, so long as the text isn’t health information.
That’s because health information is not written in a vernacular. It’s by and large a professional rhetoric, a technicalese that requires higher education to understand and use.
Yet health literacy is not a professional or cultivated competence. It’s just regular folks being able to understand their healthcare, in order to inform their medical choices and decisions.
We can agree that health literacy is an important skill, too important to let language get in the way. So this poster outlines a fix for the Achilles’ heel. The fix removes textual obstacles to understanding complex information, and replaces them with pleasurable sensations.
Sensations are the fodder of art and entertainment; in this case, AAA video games. Visual and behavioral sensations are catalyzed by game mechanics and aesthetics. This is the stuff of visceral experience rather than quiet study.
That’s why playing video games is constructive. A game is a multifaceted kit that lets players themselves build the knowledge and skills they need to win. And in our games, the way to win is to defeat the illness lurking within.
So, assume we disconnect health literacy from language literacy. Can we now build effective health promotion? Nay, more is wanted. We add scientific literacy, another competence that most folks lack. We provide opportunities for regular folks to understand and use biomedical and social sciences in the game. We believe they can and they will.
The project enhances these literacies with health acumen, an ability to deal with perplexing unknowns that make us afraid or angry or depressed or unable to resist. And with medical self-efficacy, the ability to get anxious clinical situations under personal control.
The poster sums it up as constructive health competence. And because CHC emerges in the magic circle of play, regular folks can get into it. They can escape from suffering into a fantasy that brings them back to their true selves. Selves that are not dominated by chronic illness.
Copyright 2021 Humaginarium LLC