Health Literacy - General Topic

October 16, 2018

Our lives today are filled with information and data. It is hard to keep up with all of the new ideas and technologies that can help us in our lives – it sometimes feels like too much to absorb! However, such information or data can directly, or indirectly, affect the quality of our lives and understanding it is important. Especially important is to understand terms about health – in other words, health literacy.

In the Michigan Bar Journal (October 2016), Christopher R. Trudeau wrote an article entitled “Plain Language in Healthcare: What Lawyers Need to Know. “  Although most of us aren’t lawyers, we can relate to Mr. Trudeau’s statements that “Health literacy is a person’s ability to understand and use information to make appropriate health decisions.  Approximately 88 percent of people in the U.S. have some problems understanding health information.”   Likely we are part of that 88 percent! 

According to the Health Resources & Services Administration’s website, “low health literacy is more prevalent among older adults, minority populations, those who have low socioeconomic status and medically under served people.”  Further, it states that “patients with low health literacy may have difficulty locating providers and services, filling out complex health forms and sharing their medical history with providers.”

Whatever you feel your health literacy is ranked, it is important to work with professionals in health related fields who take the time to explain, and to clarify, any terminology, or suggested solutions, to help make the best health decisions for you and your lifestyle needs. 

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