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Health Literacy

Summary

Health literacy refers to how well a person can get the health information and services that they need, and how well they understand them. It is also about using them to make good health decisions. It involves differences that people have in areas such as

  • Access to information that they can understand
  • Skills, such as finding that information, communicating with health care providers, living a healthy lifestyle, and managing a disease
  • Knowledge of medical words, and of how their healthcare system works
  • Abilities, such as physical or mental limitations
  • Personal factors, such as age, education, language abilities, and culture

More than 90 million adults in the United States have low health literacy. It affects their ability to make health decisions. This can harm their health. They may have trouble managing chronic diseases, and leading a healthy lifestyle. They may go to the hospital more often, and have poorer health overall.

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