Improve society and population health by communicating health messages so they are fully understood.
Health Literacy is defined as “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)
Only 12 percent of adults have Proficient health literacy, according to the National Assessment of Adult Literacy.(source) Even they can be intimidated by the seemingly secret language of healthcare professionals. This atmosphere leads many with low health literacy to feel helpless and unengaged in their own health as they deal with that stigma and shame.
Low literacy has been linked to poor health outcomes such as higher rates of hospitalization and less frequent use of preventive services. Both of which are associated with higher healthcare costs.
Patients need information they can understand, use, and act upon. Thus, a new emphasis has been placed on plain language but healthcare professionals still strive to overcome cultural and linguistic differences.
For many individuals with limited English proficiency (LEP), the inability to communicate in English is the primary barrier to accessing health information and services. Health information for people with LEP needs to be communicated plainly in their primary language, using words and examples that make the information understandable.(source)
Advocates for health literacy are effectuating real results. Concerted efforts are being made to improve the usability and quality of health forms and information with simple and complete instructions created in a variety of languages. Facilities have installed large signs and arrows simplifying the process of getting to care.
Each patient has their own story and their own journey. Champions are clearing paths to communicate sound treatments and cures. They are Health Literacy Heroes.
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