Health Literacy Matters

Most people are familiar with general literacy, which is often reflected in the simple question “Can you read?”

General literacy refers to basic skills needed to hold a job and get through the day—the ability to read, write, listen, speak and perform basic mathematical calculations.

Often sufficient in everyday situations, these skills can quickly become inadequate when a person enters the complex world of health care.

In fact, only 12% of literate Americans are proficient in understanding health information.

Even many highly educated people have difficulty understanding health information.

For instance, a lawyer may have trouble figuring out her medication schedule while on a business trip. A computer programmer may wonder if he can drink coffee before a lab test that requires fasting. Busy parents may spend time searching the local drug store for the right medicine to reduce a 5-year-old child’s fever.

Learn more about the basics of health literacy and impact to patient’s health --> Health Literacy Basics.