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Health Literacy

Health Literacy – The degree to which individuals are able to obtain, process and understand basic health information and services needed to make appropriate health decisions.

(From the federal government’s Healthy People 2010 document.) Health literacy includes being able to understand instructions on prescription bottles, appointment slips, health education brochures, doctor’s instructions, consent forms, and manage complex health care systems.

Health literacy, which is not necessarily related to a person’s years of formal education, may be different in different environments. It includes being able to:

  • read
  • listen
  • communicate [read, listen and talk]
  • analyze
  • make decisions, and
  • apply decision-making skills to health situations
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