Hello and welcome!
I am Dr. Darcie Moeller, a resident physician training in preventive medicine. I am passionate about patient education, especially as a means for reducing disparities in health outcomes for people with low health literacy. I have a background in fine arts and film making and did a lot of waiting tables and bartending before going into medicine. I’ve spent most of my life on the coasts but am embracing Chicago as my new home.
I am fiercely dedicated to improving health outcomes in high-need communities where people suffer much higher rates of illness and early death. I have recognized that region-based inequities exist for many reasons, including neighborhood disinvestment and racial discrimination, which lead to decreased access to a host of socioeconomic benefits. These inequities are systemic and only preventable with thoughtful action from all of us. My interest in health literacy is as a vehicle to combat social injustice.
Health literacy is the “degree to which individuals can obtain, process, understand, and communicate about health-related information needed to make informed health decisions.”
Patients with low health literacy tend to have poorer health.  There are many pathways both known and unknown that mediate this relationship. The pathways dealing with motivation, comprehension, and self-care are of particular interest to me.
The physician’s task is to provide adequate and comprehensive patient education such that their patients can make informed decisions about their care. This task is daunting, even impossible given time constraints. We send our patients home with a text-based printout about their condition. We have to assume they will understand it and hope they will tell us if they don’t (even when we know they likely will not and won’t.) The focus of my work is to provide support to the doctor-patient relationship, to facilitate communication, and to help patients engage in their care as fully and wholly as they desire.
The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) recommends universal precautions be used in the creation of written materials intended for patient use.
“Health literacy universal precautions are the steps that practices take when they assume that all patients may have difficulty comprehending health information and accessing health services.”
My patient education materials use universal precautions, and are created by applying concepts from research in design, health literacy, and health communications. My materials target the needs of people with low health literacy but are appropriate for people of all literacy levels.
Art x Medicine
Art is communication. It’s created and shared. It can change your mind or make you feel something. So, how can medical communications leverage the power of art for the purpose of medicine? The best way to teach someone something may not be through text! In addition to the way it facilitates communication, I am interested in how art brings enjoyment through humor and beauty. Can a community mural of a woman breastfeeding help to increase breastfeeding rates? Can a stand-up comedian discussing his struggles with diabetes help other patients cope with their diagnosis?
I am all for it. Do you have similar interests? an idea for a project? Get in touch. I’d love to hear from you!
 Berkman, N. D., Davis, T. C., & McCormack, L. (2010). Health literacy: What is it? Journal of Health Communication, 15, 9-19.
 Health Literacy – Fact Sheet: Health Literacy and Health Outcomes. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Retrieved March 22, 2015.
 AHRQ Health Literacy Universal Precautions Toolkit. Content last reviewed November 2016. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD. http://www.ahrq.gov/professionals/quality-patient-safety/quality-resources/tools/literacy-toolkit/index.html