Ruth M Parker, M.D.
Long Description: Dr. Parker’s research has focused on medical education and on health services of underserved populations. For the last 15 years, she has focused predominantly on health literacy. She was Co-PI on the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Literacy in Health study, which created a now widely used instrument for measuring health literacy and helped to define the prevalence of the problem. She subsequently collaborated with Prudential Health Services Researchers to define the prevalence and associations of limited health literacy among managed care seniors in 4 geographically diverse locations. She has collaborated extensively with various communities (local/national, private/public, small/large) to help define and advocate for improved health literacy in America, and has numerous peer-reviewed publications on the topic.. She co-edited the complete bibliography of medicine on health literacy for the National Library of Medicine. She chaired the expert panel for the Council of Scientific Affairs for the AMA that authored the frequently cited JAMA white paper on health literacy.
For the last 5 years, Dr. Parker has done more health policy and advocacy for the issue, allowing her to work closely with multiple national organizations (including the IOM, AMA, and ACP and its Foundation); members of industry (pharmaceutical and health services providers); and members of government (including NLM, HRSA, NIH, AHRQ, CDC, FDA, VA, the Surgeon General’s office/ODPHP, and DOE). Her understanding of health literacy comes from listening to patients, those who have problems with understanding how to take care of their health and navigate an increasing complex health care system. Dr. Parker’s passion for advocacy to build a health literate America comes from first hand experience with underserved, vulnerable patients.
In 2003, Dr. Parker began working with the American College of Physicians Foundation on their national initiative to improve health communications. Over the following year, their focus became health literacy. She initially chaired their Patient Literacy Advisory Board, and in 2005 became the Chair of their Programs Committee. In her current position, she oversees the Foundation’s programs, which include: Health Tips—What You Can Do, the Diabetes Self-Management Tool Kit, the Prescription Bottle Labeling Project, the Annual National Health Communication Conference (co-sponsored by the IOM), and the Information Rx Project. As Chair of the Programs committee, Dr. Parker serves on the Executive Board of the Foundation and is a Trustee of the Foundation.