Monday, December 31, 2012

The use of Health Literacy

Health Literacy is, “the degree to which individuals have the capacity to obtain, process and understand basic health information and services needed to make appropriate health decisions”.
Health literacy not only involves being able to read, it also involves listening, being aware of what you are to understand and having decision making skills. The client or consumer must also have the capability to apply these skills to help the clinician or therapist make any necessary decisions. Poor literacy lends to the knowledge of the clients health, income, employability, education level and can lead to discerning not only the race group yet also social standing. To improve the quality of health care, patients and providers have to work together to maintain communication. Patients must take a role in health related decisions and develop strong information skills in order to be aware of their own health. Health care providers must utilize health communication skills and educators need to provide printed information using understandable language.
Clients and consumers today are faced with complex information and treatment decisions. There are many avenues patients are required to have some knowledge of if they are to begin to understand what their illness is about:
1. Evaluation
2. Analyzing
3. Calculating
4. Interpreting
5. Locating health information
In order to carry out these task consumers must:
1. Be visually literate
2. Be computer literate
3. Be information literate
4. Be able to calculate and understand numbers
As consumers we need to be able to be understood when discussing our health concerns and describe our symptoms, we also need to be able to ask the right questions and we should have a need to understand spoken medical advice and/or treatment directions. Health literacy also includes the ability to understand and be able to search the internet and know particular web-sites which give medical information and definition to medical terms used during sessions with our therapist or clinician.
Written by Donald S.

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