What is health literacy
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Health Literacy is the degree to which an individual has the capacity to obtain, communicate, process, and understand basic health information and services to make appropriate health decisions.
Health literacy is important for everyone because, at some point in our lives, we all need to be able to find, understand, and use health information and services.
Health literacy can help us prevent health problems and protect our health, as well as better manage those problems and unexpected situations that happen.
Why is health literacy a problem?
Studies consistently show that a significant number of people have problems reading, understanding, and acting on health information.
This is an issue because health information is complex and can be hard to understand, and health providers are not necessarily skilled communicators. When organizations or people create and give others health information that is too difficult for them to understand, or we expect them to figure out health services with many unfamiliar, confusing or even conflicting steps, a health literacy problem is created.
Patients also bring a wide range of learning needs to the healthcare experience.
Basic literacy skills, language, age, disability, cultural context, and emotional responses can all affect the way people receive and process information — and the way people process information, in turn, has a direct impact on health outcomes and cost.
How does Health Literacy Month Play its Role?
Health Literacy Month is a specific time for groups like hospitals, health centers, literacy programs, libraries, social service agencies, businesses, professional associations, government agencies, consumer alliances, etc, to bring attention to the importance of making health information easy to understand — and making the health care system easier to navigate.
For more information on Health Literacy visit the CDC website.