How does lack of health literacy affect patients?

Health literacy is strongly associated with the ability of patients to participate in the management of complex diseases and self-care. Patients who cannot correctly interpret health information have higher hospitalization rates, develop more illnesses, and experience higher mortality. Therefore, patients with a low level of health literacy are at risk of not being as involved in their care. This has implications for the quality of care provided.

Especially in settings that expect a high level of patient participation, clear communication is of the utmost importance. Defined by the study authors as the degree to which people have the ability to obtain, process and understand the basic health information and services necessary to make appropriate health decisions, health literacy has become essential for care management. Defined by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), health literacy is “the degree to which people are able to obtain, process and understand the basic health information needed to make appropriate health decisions”.

The study found that adults who report poorer health also have the most limited literacy, numeracy and health literacy skills. According to Hadden, understanding a patient's health literacy level can help design care plans that take into account the patient's ability to understand information and then make decisions based on that understanding. Research has shown that low health knowledge translates into poorer health outcomes, more hospitalizations, greater use of emergency services, lower medication compliance, and lower use of preventive care. Low levels of health literacy were related to higher rates of hospitalization and mortality, but were not related to the use of the emergency service, the team said.

While doctors should participate in most meetings without making assumptions about the patient's level of health literacy, there are some groups that are more likely to have a low level of health knowledge. Even for people who are in good health, a lack of knowledge about health often means that they do not have the skills necessary to prevent diseases and manage their health properly. So why are there so many health care blogs on the Internet? In part, it is intended to increase health literacy. The Hadden Health Literacy Center conducts a social media campaign every October, which is Health Literacy Month, to raise awareness of the issue and promote Simple Commitment, which asks health professionals to remove a word from the jargon Coleman said he teaches students that the The average patient remembers half of the information discussed during a health encounter, and half of that information is generally incorrectly remembered.

However, whatever type of technology is used to improve health literacy, it must be a tool that can be accessed by potentially affected populations. These findings highlight the vital need to improve patients' levels of health literacy, both through stronger screening for health literacy and through public health education efforts, Finney Rutten said. As the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) points out, even people who read well and are comfortable with numbers can face health literacy problems when they are not familiar with medical terms or how their bodies work. .

Lily Prach
Lily Prach

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