What Is Health Literacy?

The query, What is health literacy?” is one of the most searched questions on the internet. Different scholars have come up with other health literacy definitions. All in all, all the various reports agree that health literacy can obtain, read, understand, and use healthcare information to make appropriate health decisions and follow medical instructions.

Health literacy affects everyone. It’s worth noting that health literacy is essential for everyone because we all need to be able to find, understand, and use the health information and services available to us at some point in our lives.

Reasons Why Countries Have Health Literacy Problems

Low health literacy levels are witnessed all across the globe. Several governments have funded public health awareness campaigns to try and do away with this issue on numerous occasions. There are several reasons as to why health literacy is still a problem in several countries. Here are some of the reasons why.

Low literacy levels

It’s common knowledge that low health literacy levels are familiar to those with low literacy levels. Low literacy levels usually hinder a patient’s receipt of written health communication materials and his/her ability to interpret written health-related information accurately. In some cases, low literacy levels have hindered communication between patients and their health care caregivers.


Poverty is one of the leading causes of low health literacy levels in many countries. Poverty, in this case, comes to play in the form of one’s insurance status. It’s widely known that uninsured individuals tend to have lower health literacy levels than their insured counterparts.


Over the last couple of decades, strides have been made by those in charge to close the racial gaps. However, more still needs to be done. In America, if you’re Spanish, your health literacy levels are likely to be lower than that of all other ethnicities. If you’re white and educated, your health literacy levels are likely to be higher than that of all different races.

Cultural Beliefs

Culture is, according to one definition, the way of life of a people. In some cultures, male patients can’t be treated by female doctors and vice versa. Such retrogressive beliefs are a leading cause of low health literacy levels in several countries.

Medical Jargons

Medical jargons have, for long, been known to be a significant cause of low health literacy levels. It’s usually advised that when a doctor explains something to his/her patients, he/she refrain from using medical jargon to avoid miscommunication. Instead, he/she ought to use words that the patient can understand.

Ways Through Which Health Literacy Levels Can Be Improved

As noted before, health literacy is essential. There are several ways through which low health literacy levels can be dealt with. Listed below are some of the said methods.

  • Caregivers ought to simplify communication when dealing with patients.
  • Doctors should ensure that their patients comprehend the matters they discuss.
  • Governments should make their health care systems easy to navigate.

By following these simple steps, health literacy can be improved.

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