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Health Literacy: Speak Plain Language: What is health literacy?

What is health literacy?

"Health literacy is the degree to which individuals have the capacity to obtain, process, and understand basic health information and services needed to make appropriate health decisions."

Or, in plain language, health literacy is:  A person being able to understand and take the right action to make good health choices.

Source:  U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. 2000. Healthy People 2010. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office.

Who is at risk?

"Populations most likely to experience low health literacy are older adults, racial and ethnic minorities, people with less than a high school degree or GED certificate, people with low income levels, non-native speakers of English, and people with compromised health 
status."

Source:  Quick Guide to Health Literacy, Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Who is responsible for improving health literacy?

"The primary responsibility for improving health literacy lies with public health professionals and the healthcare and public health systems."

Source:  Quick Guide to Health Literacy, Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services