Welcome! I hope this guide can serve as a starting point for those who are looking to learn more about health literacy. It is also a tool for health care providers looking to locate resources for improving communication with patients. Additionally, this guide's resources for continuing education and training are useful for those who teach and evaluate health literacy.
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This guide is a work in progress - check back regularly for updated information.
WHAT IS HEALTH LITERACY?
“The degree to which individuals have the capacity to obtain, process and understand basic health information and services needed to make appropriate health decisions.” — Source: Healthy People 2010
Individuals must possess the skills to understand information and services and use them to make appropriate decisions about health. Similar to our traditional understanding of literacy, health literacy incorporates a range of abilities: to read, comprehend, and analyze information; decode instructions, symbols, charts, and diagrams; weigh risks and benefits; and, ultimately, make decisions and take action. The concept of health literacy extends to the materials, environments, and challenges specifically associated with disease prevention and health promotion.
According to Healthy People 2010, an individual is considered to be "health literate" when he or she possesses the skills to understand information and services and use them to make appropriate decisions about health.
Areas commonly associated with health literacy include:
This was excerpted from:
Clear Communication: An NIH Health Literacy Initiative