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JABSOM Library: Library Updates

October is Health Literacy Month

by Melissa Kahili-Heede on 2020-10-16T15:50:15-10:00 in Consumer Health, Patient education | 0 Comments

Health Literacy Month

What is health literacy?

Broadly defined, health literacy is as an individual’s ability to find, understand, and use health information to make health related decisions.1


Why is it important?

Low health literacy makes it difficult for patients to understand and thus comply with health care advice and in turn leads to poorer health outcomes. Higher levels of health literacy may lead to greater autonomy by allowing individuals to make more informed health care decisions.2 In the midst of a pandemic, it is more important than ever to help people understand how to protect themselves and others from contracting and/or spreading a disease.3 Health literacy empowers people to identify accurate information and discard misinformation. Lower levels of health literacy often correlate with health disparity populations due to socioeconomic, educational, and language differences.4


What can patients do to improve their health literacy? 

Learn about health issues through trusted sources (think SIFT), improve you communication skills with doctors, and be your own advocate.

Resources for consumers:


What can health care professionals do?

For HCPs, enhancing cultural competence, examining personal bias (implicit or not) and improving communication skills with patients may help.4

Resources for HCPs:

Patient Education materials are available in these UH databases:


Works cited:

1. MedlinePlus. Health Literacy. Accessed October 9, 2020. 

2. Nutbeam D. Discussion paper on promoting, measuring and implementing health literacy: Implications for policy and practice in non-communicable disease prevention and control. World Health Organization. Published online 2017:1-29.

3. Paakkari L, Okan O. COVID-19: health literacy is an underestimated problem. Lancet Public Health. 2020;5(5):e249-e250. doi:10.1016/S2468-2667(20)30086-4

4. Pérez-Stable EJ, El-Toukhy S. Communicating with Diverse Patients: How Patient and Clinician Factors Affect Disparities. Patient Educ Couns. 2018;101(12):2186-2194. doi:10.1016/j.pec.2018.08.021

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