March Meeting

Patient and Community Engagement: Of the people, by the people, and for the people

Do you regularly engage the people you serve in shaping your health literacy programs, practices, and policies?  Are the people that you engage representative of the populations you serve?  What strategies can be used to help you tailor your work to the health literacy needs of the clients you serve? Carla Sparks will discuss patient and community engagement principles, strategies, and practices to promote health literacy and promote learning and innovation within your organization overall.

 Carla Sparks, MPH Carla pic1is the Director of Patient Centered Initiatives and Community Engagement at the Center for Health Literacy (CHL) at UAMS. In this role, she works with UAMS Family Medical Centers to facilitate patient engagement, and on patient and community-based plain language field testing internally and for CHL clients such as the Arkansas Insurance Department, and the Arkansas Center for Health Improvement. Formerly, as Community Liaison for the  UAMS College of Public Health, Office of Community-Based Public Health, she served as a college-wide resource supporting faculty, students, and communities in community-based public health and community-based participatory research activities, and was also an adjunct faculty member of the Health Policy and Management Department of the UAMS College of Public Health.

 Ms. Sparks received her BS in Mathematics from Philander Smith College of Little Rock, AR and her Master of Public Health from the UAMS Fay W. Boozman College of Public Health. Ms. Sparks has over 20 years experience in training and organization development through her work in the corporate/private sector. Through her work at UAMS, she has served on a campus-wide taskforce focused on reducing racial and ethnic health disparities, and as a leader and member of the Boards of several different nonprofit/community-based organizations. Ms. Sparks also has experience as an organization development consultant providing capacity building training and technical assistance on topics such as Board development, strategic planning, team-building, etc. to community-based organizations in the State.

 The meeting will be at the AR Department of Health in the Lab Training Room #2508. Video teleconferencing will be available, so please let me know if you need help with arrangements at


University of Arkansas Medical Centers Improving Care with AHRQ’s CUSP and Health Literacy Toolkit

The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) has implemented several AHRQ tools—including the Comprehensive Unit-based Safety Program (CUSP) and the Health Literacy Universal Precautions Toolkit—with some eye-catching results!

Check is out here:

2015 Mid-Winter Conference Summary

The Partnership for Health Literacy in Arkansas held its 2015 Mid-Winter Conference at the central office of the Arkansas Department of Health in Little Rock on January 22, 2015. This year’s theme was “How to Help Parents with Low Literacy Understand Nutrition”. We had several knowledgeable speakers to address this theme.

Our first speaker for the day was Rachel Townsend, director of the Arkansas Hunger Relief Alliance’s Cooking Matters Program. Townsend reviewed the program and its specialized curricula for teach nutrition to parents, families, teens, and kids. She also discussed cultural literacy and Cooking Matters’ methods for training volunteers, as well as changes the program has made to more successfully reach its target audience.

Our second presentation was by Deborah Shirey, DNP, FNP and Marilou Shreve, DNP, PNP from the University of Arkansas Eleanor Mann School of Nursing. Shirey and Shreve discussed obesity statistics, comorbidities, and risks associated with obesity in the pediatric population. They described the need for limiting sugar and fat intake, and for implementing behavioral changes that lead to healthier eating and physical activity. Some of these changes include: decrease snacking, decrease eating outside of the home, and turn off the TV and eat at the table.

Leanne Whiteside-Mansell, Ed.D. and Taren Swindle, Ph.D. conducted our last presentation. Their discussion focused on putting yourself in the shoes of the children and families you work with. They advised using plain language, simple messages, and an empathetic attitude. The three key messages they encouraged participants to deliver to parents were: role model positive behavior, allow children to choose if they eat and how much, and ask about hunger instead of requiring children to “clean their plate”.

We wrapped up the program with Joy Rockenbach, who presented on the work of ARCOP and helped facilitate a discussion on how to take things learned at the conference and use them in daily work.

Materials and video from the conference will be available soon.

February Meeting


UPDATE: This meeting has been canceled due to inclement  weather.


Our Partnership for Health Literacy Meeting will be Friday, February 20th at 1:30 p.m. Eric Crumbaugh, Pharm.D., APA Director of Clinical Programs will be speaking on the simplifying of medicine instructions and medication adherence. Explicit, standardized instructions that improve patients’ understanding, and possibly reduce errors while improving adherence, are now available from the AHRQ Pharmacy Health Literacy Center. These tested instructions for pills follow the Universal Medication Schedule (UMS), which simplifies complex medicine regimens by using standard time periods for administration (morning, noon, evening, and bedtime). The instructions have also been translated into Chinese, Korean, Russian, Spanish, and Vietnamese.

To access the instructions in all six languages, go to:

To learn about other tools and resources available from the AHRQ’s Pharmacy Health Literacy Center, go to:

The meeting will be at the AR Department of Health Room #2508.  Video teleconferencing will be available, so please let me know if you need help with arrangements at See below at our calendar for upcoming events.

PHLA Meeting Calendar 2015


Tufts University School of Medicine’s Health Communication Summer Institute 2015



Health communication is critical in today’s fast changing health care landscape. Find out about Tufts University School of Medicine’s Health Communication Summer Institute 2015 here:  

To look at the brochure and see what Tufts has to offer, please click the link below.

Health Communication Summer Institute Brochure 2015