The importance of health literacy

HAVE you ever had to care or advocate for a family member or friend?

Perhaps you've found yourself trying to navigate the complex web of specialists, in-patient administration counters, medication regimes, ward protocols or hospital corridors?

Health literacy is the ability to seek out, ‘make sense of’, evaluate and act on important health imperatives and information to reduce health risks and improve the quality of life. 

It involves a range of skills, resources and capacities that improve our knowledge and ability to make good health-related decisions and take better care for ourselves and those we love.

It is evident daily in people’s self-awareness, medication compliance, community education, practice guidelines, health administration protocols and professional development.

An encompassing enabler on the one hand, health literacy is a matter of life and death on the other.

Studies show that lower health literacy is associated with an increased risk of hospitalisation and lower life expectancy.

Barriers to health literacy impact rates of illness, accident and death. There is also the burden of cost on the health system.

This makes the improvement of health literacy a social obligation and community goal for us all.

Much more than an individual capacity or attribute, health literacy facilitates a capacity for self-efficacy across the community.

It has a major role to play in disease management and prevention.

It requires the collaboration of patients, health system designers, governments and policy makers, health writers, practitioners, health administrators, support groups and carers.

If we can assist you to create an innovative suite of health promotional material, build community support for a public health issue, or improve the quality of patient experience in hospital and community care settings, please give us a call.

 

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