Insights on improving digital literacy of women #webinar (3) Health literacy and access to personal medical records

17 May, 2021

We undertook a small study "Testing the health literacy of twenty Bangladeshi patients before and 5 months after they began to access their GP electronic record" on improving the health literacy of Bangladeshi women in the practice of Dr Amir Hannan in Greater Manchester, UK. This was a non peer group reviewed study on a small number of patients but may be relevant to the discussion about improving digital health literacy of women.

Testing the health literacy of twenty Bangladeshi patients before and 5 months after they begin to access their GP electronic record | British Journal of General Practice (


Background: Patients with higher health literacy enjoy better health outcomes and are more compliant with treatment. Health literacy is a product of memory, reason and imagination. Patients who can access their records have potentially more memory (knowledge) and make less phone calls to and have less consultations with their GP, practice nurse, HCA and other professionals.

Aim: The study aims to measure the knowledge that twenty Bangladeshi patients with poor English have of their medical history before and after access to their electronic record.

Method: 55% of patients at Thornley House have access to their medical records. A simple questionnaire was given to 20 Bangladeshi patients before and 5 months after access to their electronic record. The questionnaires recorded the patients’ knowledge of their medical histories. The scores of the completed before and after questionnaires were compared to see if record access had increased patients’ knowledge.

Results: Five patients completed before and after questionnaires. Each achieved a higher score after record access. The differences in scores for the five patients were 2, 5, 1, 10, and 1, respectively.

Conclusion: Health literacy for patients is similar to medical literacy for doctors. It requires knowledge, skills and attitudes. We will see whether record access can increase knowledge. Further studies might measure whether that increased knowledge improves skills and attitudes.


HIFA profile: Richard Fitton is a retired family doctor - GP, British Medical Association. Professional interests: Health literacy, patient partnership of trust and implementation of healthcare with professionals, family and public involvement in the prevention of modern lifestyle diseases, patients using access to professional records to overcome confidentiality barriers to care, patients as part of the policing of the use of their patient data

Email address: richardpeterfitton7 AT