A universal precautions approach means treating all patients as if they are at risk of not understanding health information. When health care providers use this approach, they acknowledge that:
Professionals can’t accurately identify who understands and who doesn’t.
Even individuals with proficient health literacy skills may not attribute the same meaning to health terms and instructions as professionals do. These inviduals can sometimes have trouble understanding health information – especially when they are sick, frightened, or in pain.
Health literacy can be situational. For example, it may depend on the complexity of the information and the patient’s relevant experiences and stress level.
Everyone benefits from clear, actionable information.
By adopting a universal precautions approach, health care providers communicate with all patients in clear and actionable ways.