Health literacy, as defined by the World Health Organization (WHO), is “the cognitive and social skills which determine the motivation and ability of individuals to gain access to, understand and use information in ways which promote and maintain good health.”
Health literacy is an essential tool for individuals to be able to achieve better health outcomes. Here are the critical reasons why health literacy is key to achieving better health outcomes:
1. Better management of medical conditions
People with high health literacy are better able to manage their medical conditions. They can understand their doctor’s instructions, medical terms, and treatment plans. They are also more likely to follow their medication schedules and other treatments, which can lead to better health outcomes.
2. Improved preventive care
Individuals with high health literacy are more likely to get preventative care, such as regular check-ups and screenings. They understand the importance of preventative care and can make informed decisions about their healthcare.
3. Increased adherence to medications
Health literacy is linked to higher medication adherence. People who can read and understand medication labels and instructions are more likely to take their medications as prescribed by their doctors. Improved medication adherence can lead to better health outcomes and reduced healthcare costs.
4. Better communication with healthcare professionals
Improved health literacy enables individuals to communicate more effectively with healthcare professionals. They can ask questions, express concerns, and provide feedback about their healthcare. Better communication leads to better understanding and more effective treatment plans.
5. Reduced healthcare costs
Individuals with high health literacy have lower healthcare costs. They can effectively manage their health conditions, preventative care and have reduced hospital admissions. This consequently leads to decreased healthcare costs.
In conclusion, health literacy is an essential tool to achieving better health outcomes. It empowers individuals to make informed and effective decisions about their healthcare. It also leads to better communication, increased adherence to medical treatments, and reduced healthcare costs. It is, therefore, critical to ensure that individuals have the skills and knowledge necessary to improve their health literacy.