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Student research on patient health literacy featured at national dentistry conference

Bailey Hollihan will present at the Academy of General Dentistry conference in July

A second-year WVU School of Dentistry student will present research at the Academy of General Dentistry (AGD) conference this summer.

Bailey Hollihan, of Pittsburgh, PA, applied and was accepted to present at the conference in Uncasville, CT. The annual scientific session is an advanced hands-on education opportunity into clinical and practice management.

Hollihan’s study was published in the October-December 2018 issue of Dental Hypotheses, the official publication of the American Biodontics Society and the Center for Research in Education and Technology.

It is titled “Improving Oral Health Literacy in the Digital Age: Recommendations for a Collaboration Between the Dental Profession and Voice-Activated Virtual Assistants.”

Through her research, Hollihan concluded that while patients are more actively involved in managing their health and making medical decisions, they may be doing so with a low prevalence of health literacy.

“Quick research led me to very unsettling realities. I found that many Americans struggle with low health literacy, which prevents them from understanding doctors’ orders and often contributes to poor health conditions,” explained Hollihan.

Hollihan referred to conditions related to high blood pressure, diabetes and HIV/AIDS.

While turning to online research of their own and relying less on providers to explain diagnosis and treatment, Hollihan found patients could become confused, misled or finding inaccurate information about their health.

Hollihan’s article suggests collaboration among software companies and organized dentistry entities could improve the information turned up by online patient searches.

 “The goal of my article is not to provide a solution to the health literacy crisis.  However, I do hope to bring a greater awareness to the subject because I believe that knowledge is the first step in bringing about change. And, change is so desperately needed,” said Hollihan.

To learn more about Hollihan’s findings and suggestions, click to see her article online.

The AGD conference is scheduled for July 18-20.