Health literacy is the ability to obtain, process, and understand basic health information and services to make appropriate health decisions (Kōrero Mārama, 2010). Health literacy includes how an individual navigates and interacts with our complex health system. Health literacy includes people’s expectations about health and well-being, and their understanding of health messages, medicine labels and nutrition information, as well as their ability to fill out medical forms and talk with their doctor.
1,621,000 adult New Zealanders have poor health literacy skills (Kōrero Mārama, 2010). To read more about health literacy statistics, click here.
People with poor health literacy:
- are less likely to use prevention services
- have less knowledge of their illness, treatment, and medicines
- are less likely to recognise the first signs of medical problems
- are less likely to manage their long-term/chronic condition
- are less likely to communicate their concerns to health professionals
- are more likely to be hospitalised due to a chronic condition
- are more likely to use emergency services, and
- are more vulnerable to workplace injury.
(Kōrero Mārama, 2010)