Topic 5 Health literacy

Health literacy is an important aspect of health promotion and key determinant in managing diseases, improving health outcomes and improving the general efficacy of the health care system.

"Linked to education and entails people's knowledge, motivation and competences to access, understand, evaluate, and apply health information in everyday life decision making concerning healthcare, disease prevention and health promotion to maintain or improve quality of life during the life course”
Sørensen, 2012
“Health literacy occurs when the skills and ability of those requiring health information and services are aligned with the demand and complexity of information and services available.”
Parker & Ratzan, 2010

Why it is important?

  • Low health literacy works as a health obstacle:

Low health literacy 🡪 poor health outcomes, lower adherence to the treatment, higher mortality rates

Low health literacy 🡪 poor communication between patient and health professional

  • Patients with high health literacy are 30% less likely to be re-admitted or visit the emergency department

Hospital re-admission rates decrease as the health literacy levels of the patients increases.

Health literacy has three levels (WHO, 2009):

Skills that define adequate health literacy level

Being able to:

  • Access healthcare services
  • Analyze relative risks and benefits
  • Calculate medication dosages
  • Communicate with health care providers
  • Locate health information
  • Evaluate credibility and quality of information
  • Interpret test results