What is health literacy?
According to Healthy People 2010, health literacy is the ability to obtain, process, and understand information about health. People need these skills to make good decisions about their health.
Unfortunately, nearly nine of every ten adults do not have the basic skills they need to manage their health (From Quick Guide to Health Literacy Fact Sheet: Health Literacy Basics, US Department of Health and Human Services).
Nine in ten people lack the skills they need to be healthy.
Why does health literacy matter?
Research tells us that health literacy has a real impact on health outcomes.
- Preventive services. People with limited health literacy are less likely to use preventive services such as mammograms.
- Knowledge about conditions. They are more likely to have a chronic condition - but likely to know less about how to manage it
- Hospitalization rates. They are more likely to be hospitalized
- Health status. They are more likely to report poor health status
- Healthcare costs. They are more likely to use costly health services
(From Quick Guide to Health Literacy Fact Sheet: Health Literacy and Health Outcomes, US Department of Health and Human Services)
What can I do?
You can use the resources on this website to learn more about health literacy. You can also use the tools here to learn how to better communicate with people who have limited health literacy skills.
How can the MaineHealth Learning Resource Center help?
We can help MaineHealth member organizations with:
- Staff training on health literacy and clear communication
Materials development, including readability assessments
Field testing, such as focus groups, cognitive interviews, and user testing
Any other health literacy projects
Contact us about your project today! Our services are free to MaineHealth member organizations.