What happens if she can’t understand the label on a prescription bottle?

The label on the prescription bottle reads, “Take one tablet by mouth twice daily with meals until finished.  Do not drink alcoholic beverages when taking this medication.”  These simple instructions may be clear to many of us, but to someone with limited English language skills, this vital health information may be lost.  More importantly, if the label is not clearly understood, a serious adverse reaction could occur.  Poor health literacy may lead a person to take medicine incorrectly.  It may also lead to delayed or inappropriate health care, missed appointments, and a poor understanding of health education information.  

To address the serious gap in health literacy among the growing number of individuals with limited English proficiency, we have developed an innovative program called Expecting the Best.  Expecting the Best is a health and wellness curriculum for English as a Second Language (ESL) students designed to improve health literacy, functional literacy, and enhance English communication skills. The project addresses common literacy concerns that adult educators and health care professionals have expressed and builds upon the strengths of these two disciplines. Expecting the Best is a collaborative effort between the Coastal Area Health Education Center, the North Carolina March of Dimes, the North Carolina Community College System, and the Division of Public Health in the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services.

Classes focus on health care, nutrition, and exercise and fitness.