medical Health literacy or Health literacy

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medical Health literacy or Health literacy

medical Health literacy or Health literacy
medical Health literacy or Health literacy

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Health literacy is considered to be a constellation of skills an individual needs to function effectively in the health care environment and act appropriately on health information. Multi- ple definitions of health literacy exist in the literature. (For a review see Sorensen, Van den Broucke, Fullam, Doyle, Pelikan, Slonska, & Brand, 2012.) A commonly cited definition of health literacy in this country is the Institute of Medicine (IOM) one, which describes health literacy as an individual’s capacity to obtain, process, and understand basic information and services needed to make appropriate health care decisions (IOM, 2004). This definition was adopted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Other common descrip- tions of health literacy include medical health literacy, clinical health literacy, or functional health literacy, as health literacy refers to the skills needed to function in the health care system. These skills include basic reading and writing (print literacy), using quantitative information (numeracy), and speaking and listening effectively (oral literacy). Medical health literacy enables persons to read and understand health information such as specific instructions or prescriptions and consents, to make appointments, to complete medical forms, and to self- manage chronic conditions.

The World Health Organization adopted a broader definition, as it defines health literacy as the cognitive and social skills that determine the motivation and ability of an individual to gain access to, understand, and use information in ways that promote and main- tain good health (Kumareson, 2013). This broader definition includes persons who are not in the health care system and indicates that individuals must have the knowledge, skills, and self-confidence needed to take action to improve their personal health as well as the health of the communities in which they reside. Within this definition, three typologies of health literacy have been identified:

· Functional:basic reading and writings kills to understand and use information

· Interactive: cognitive skills to interact with health care professionals, interpret and apply information

Clients with low health literacy need specific skills to manage their health effectively, including reading, writing, and numeracy skills, as well as the following (Frisch, Camerini, Diviani, & Schulz, 2012)

Health literacy involves an individual’s cognitive, emotional, and social skills outside the control of the health care system (Peerson & Saunders, 2009). Health literacy involves the ability to access information and use it in one’s everyday life. Medical health literacy is more limited, as it focuses on the ability to read, understand, and carry out health care instructions. Vulnerable groups need to be taught health literacy skills to become empowered to navigate the health care system as well as participate in preventive and health-promoting behaviors.