Promoting Health Literacy: Tools and Strategies
Health Literacy is...
Simply put, health literacy refers to an individual’s ability to understand health information and make health and health care decisions based on that information. Taking an inclusive approach to promoting health literacy couldn’t be more important. As has been noted for many years, people with disabilities experience significant health disparities compared to their peers without disabilities. One of the biggest barriers that people with and without disabilities face is health information that is too complex or provided in an inaccessible manner. Nine out of 10 adults struggle to understand unfamiliar health information and this has been shown to add significant costs to our health care system.
Clear, Tailored & Effective Communication
Improving Health Literacy is about communicating health information in a clear and understandable way. According to the The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC,) public health professionals are often the culprit when it comes to misunderstanding or misinterpreting health information. Specifically, using too much jargon or scientific data, over-reliance on printed information (or a lack of diversity in the message delivery methods,) too much focus on conveying information rather than encouraging actions, and limited awareness of cultural differences that affect information uptake. In addition, there must be consideration given to the diverse levels of ability to interpret messaging and an understanding of how to convey information in a way that is accessible to everyone. Any organization responsible for disseminating health information to the public, whether they are a health care provider, a local health department, a faith-based organization, an employer, must take an inclusive approach when informing any audience about health issues.