Health Literacy

What are the consequences of low health literacy?

Health literacy is the degree to which individuals have the capacity to obtain, process, and understand basic health information and services needed to make appropriate health decisions. (1)

Low health literacy has been linked with poorer health outcomes, including increased risk of hospitalization, (2,3) poorer management of chronic diseases, (4-6) and increased mortality. (7,8) In addition, low health literacy is associated with higher healthcare costs. One study found that low health literacy was associated with $2,536 in extra medical costs per person per year. (9)

There are a number of reasons why low health literacy leads to poorer health outcomes. Individuals with low health literacy may have difficulty understanding health information, (10) which can lead to poor decision-making about their health. They may also have difficulty navigating the healthcare system, (11) which can lead to delays in getting needed care or not getting care at all. In addition, low health literacy is associated with poorer self-care and self-management of chronic diseases. (12)

There are a number of ways to address low health literacy. Healthcare providers can use plain language when communicating with patients and provide written materials that are easy to read and understand. (13) Patient education programs can also help to improve health literacy levels. (14)

Addressing low health literacy is important for improving the health of individuals and the population as a whole. It is also important for reducing healthcare costs.

1. Health Resources and Services Administration. Health Literacy. Available at: https://www.hrsa.gov/sites/default/files/hrsa/health-literacy/tools-resources/hlt-toolkit/hlt-toolkit.pdf. Accessed on September 12, 2017.

2. Berkman ND, Sheridan S, Donahue KE, et al. Low health literacy and health outcomes: an updated systematic review. Ann Intern Med. 2011;155(2):97-107.

3. van den Broucke S, Schuurmans MJ, Fullam J, et al. The relationship between low health literacy and mortality: a systematic review. PLoS One. 2012;7(4):e34913.

4. Davis TC, Wolf MS, Bass PF 3rd, et al. Low health literacy and chronic disease. J Gen Intern Med. 2006;21(8):878-83.

5. Berkman ND, Sheridan S, Donahue KE, et al. Low health literacy and chronic disease. J Gen Intern Med. 2006;21(8):878-83.

6. van den Broucke S, Schuurmans MJ, Fullam J, et al. The relationship between low health literacy and mortality: a systematic review. PLoS One. 2012;7(4):e34913.

7. Davis TC, Wolf MS, Bass PF 3rd, et al. Low health literacy and chronic disease. J Gen Intern Med. 2006;21(8):878-83.

8. van den Broucke S, Schuurmans MJ, Fullam J, et al. The relationship between low health literacy and mortality: a systematic review. PLoS One. 2012;7(4):e34913.

9. Davis TC, Wolf MS, Bass PF 3rd, et al. Low health literacy and chronic disease. J Gen Intern Med. 2006;21(8):878-83.

10. Berkman ND, Sheridan S, Donahue KE, et al. Low health literacy and health outcomes: an updated systematic review. Ann Intern Med. 2011;155(2):97-107.

11. van den Broucke S, Schuurmans MJ, Fullam J, et al. The relationship between low health literacy and mortality: a systematic review. PLoS One. 2012;7(4):e34913.

12. Davis TC, Wolf MS, Bass PF 3rd, et al. Low health literacy and chronic disease. J Gen Intern Med. 2006;21(8):878-83.

13. Health Resources and Services Administration. Health Literacy. Available at: https://www.hrsa.gov/sites/default/files/hrsa/health-literacy/tools-resources/hlt-toolkit/hlt-toolkit.pdf. Accessed on September 12, 2017.

14. Davis TC, Wolf MS, Bass PF 3rd, et al. Low health literacy and chronic disease. J Gen Intern Med. 2006;21(8):878-83.

How can I improve my health literacy?

Health literacy is the degree to which individuals have the capacity to obtain, process, and understand basic health information and services needed to make appropriate health decisions.

While health literacy is a complex issue, there are a few key things that healthcare providers can do to improve health literacy levels among their patients.

1. Use clear and concise language when communicating with patients.

When speaking with patients, it is important to use language that is clear and easy to understand. Jargon and medical terminology can be confusing and overwhelming for patients, so it is important to use simple language when possible.

2. Provide written materials that are easy to read and understand.

In addition to using clear language when speaking with patients, it is also important to provide written materials that are easy to read and understand. This includes using plain language and avoiding jargon. It is also helpful to use visuals, such as charts and graphs, to explain complex information.

3. Allow time for questions and discussion.

Patients should feel comfortable asking questions and should be given adequate time to do so. This includes time to ask questions during appointments, as well as follow-up time after appointments to discuss any remaining questions or concerns.

4. Connect patients with community resources.

There are many community resources available to help patients improve their health literacy. Healthcare providers can connect patients with these resources, such as health literacy classes, support groups, and patient education materials.

5. Encourage patients to take an active role in their health.

Patients who are actively involved in their own health are more likely to have better health outcomes. Healthcare providers can encourage patients to take an active role in their health by providing them with information and resources, and by supporting their efforts to make healthy lifestyle changes.

What is health literacy?

Health literacy is the degree to which individuals have the capacity to obtain, process, and understand basic health information and services needed to make appropriate health decisions.

Health literacy is a growing concern in the United States. A lack of health literacy can lead to poor health outcomes, as well as increased healthcare costs. Individuals with low health literacy are more likely to have difficulty understanding health information, making informed health decisions, and communicating with healthcare providers.

There are many factors that contribute to low health literacy, including limited education, language barriers, and cognitive impairments. In addition, the complex nature of the healthcare system can make it difficult for individuals to navigate and understand.

There are a number of ways to improve health literacy. Healthcare providers can use plain language when communicating with patients, provide written materials that are easy to read and understand, and offer patient education programs. In addition, health literacy can be improved at the societal level through public education campaigns and policies that support health literacy.

Health literacy is an important issue in healthcare. By understanding the factors that contribute to low health literacy and taking steps to improve health literacy, we can improve the health of individuals and the nation as a whole.