Perspective: The Compelling Need for Health Literacy
The term “health literacy” describes a certain set of skills stemming from global literacy that allows patients to obtain, understand, process, integrate, and utilize health information to make decisions about their health. Health literacy levels parallel those of global literacy; however, health literacy is more significant than education when examining health status. Surveys conducted by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) reveal that approximately 90 million Americans have inadequate literacy skills, which impacts their ability to interface with the healthcare system at many levels. Efforts should be made to ensure that health information and the healthcare system are usable and accessible to all, regardless of literacy level.
KeywordsLiteracy Health literacy National Adult Literacy Survey Numeracy Prescription error Health disparity REALM (Rapid Estimate of Adult Literacy in Medicine) S-TOFHLA (Shortened Test of Functional Health Literacy in Adults)
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