October 19th - Plenary: Race, the Literacy Gap, and the Pandemic
By drawing from recent research and experiences as a community-engaged pollster, this session explores some health literacy barriers among African Americans while considering potential strategies for overcoming them.
- Discuss racial-group differences in how the COVID-19 pandemic is experienced
- Discuss racial-group differences in how COVID-19 is understood
- Discuss racial-group differences in the intent to adhere to public health recommendations
- Describe communication strategies for overcoming racial and ethnic disparities in health communication
Ray Block, PhD
Associate Professor of Political Science and African American Studies, Penn State
Ray Block is Associate Professor of Political Science and African American Studies at Penn State. His research interests include racial, ethnic, and gender differences in civic involvement; the formation and mutability of social identity; campaigns and elections; and other topics. He has published dozens of book chapters, manuscripts, and peer-reviewed journal articles and is co-author of Losing Power: Americans and Racial Polarization in Tennessee Politics (University of Georgia Press, 2020). He serves as member of the Executive Council the National Conference of Black Political Scientists, as a research analyst for both the African American Research Collaborative and Latino Decisions, and as faculty coach for the National Center for Faculty Development & Diversity, and for Penn State University's Mid-Career Faculty Advancement Program.
Michael Paasche-Orlow, MD, MPH
Director of the General Internal Medicine Post-Doctoral Training Program in Health Services and Clinical Epidemiology, Boston University School of Medicine and Boston Medical Center
Dr. Paasche-Orlow is a primary care clinician and a nationally recognized expert in the field of health literacy who has dedicated his career to improving the care of vulnerable populations. He is currently a co-investigator with seven clinical studies that examine health literacy and doctor-patient communication, various modes of patient education, and empowerment. He has been the lead designer of eight patient-oriented interactive behavioral informatics programs and have helped create and evaluate a range of patient empowerment and decision support tools. This work has brought attention to the role that health literacy plays in racial and ethnic disparities, improving informed consent, and improving advanced care planning, as well as to the fact that appropriately designed information technologies can be empowering for patients with low health literacy. He is the founding Editor-in-Chief for Health Literacy Research and Practice, which began publishing in 2017. He has also helped promote the field of health literacy research as the Director of the Health Literacy Annual Research Conference for the past twelve years. He has lectured broadly on the role of health literacy in health outcomes and health disparities and serves as a member of the Health Literacy Roundtable for the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.