Cultivating Health Literacy
Contributor: Dashi Haynes, RN
As defined by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
• Personal health literacy is the degree to which individuals have the ability to find, understand, and use information and services to inform health-related decisions and actions for themselves and others.
• Organizational health literacy is the degree to which organizations equitably enable individuals to find, understand, and use information and services to inform health-related decisions and actions for themselves and others.
The goal of health literacy is to help everyday people find the right health care and services, manage chronic conditions/diseases and become active participants in maintaining their health and well-being.
Some of the difficulties with health literacy facing many Americans include filling out medical forms, selecting providers, describing symptoms a person might be experiencing, asking the right questions and understanding medical advice, and deciding between different health plans.
Health care organizations (private or community-based) should work together with clients and patients to ensure that these barriers are eliminated and that communication flows smoothly. Seeking assistance from a nurse navigator or coordinator could lessen the stress and misunderstandings experienced when attempting to navigate the medical maze.