About the book
Health literacy is the degree to which individuals can obtain, process, and understand basic health information needed to make appropriate health decisions. Health literacy skills allow patients to take control of their well-being by making smart healthcare choices, improving their communication with doctors, and giving them the information they need to advocate for themselves in a medical setting. Without health literacy, patients can suffer real consequences.
From a public health perspective, reduced health literacy can lead to widespread consequences. “Low health literacy is also costly for the country because when people don't understand health information and instructions, they are more likely to have worse health outcomes and unnecessarily use emergency room services,”. Experts agree that health literacy is vital to reducing healthcare costs and improving public health. The path to improving health literacy isn’t always straightforward, however.
“Unfortunately, up to 9 out of 10 adults can have limited health literacy, and this can be fluid,” Blue says. “It can be more challenging to be health literate when we are sick or in pain, so even someone who normally has a high level of health literacy may struggle at times to understand and process health information.”