The government has defined health literacy as “The degree to which individuals have the capacity to obtain, process and understand basic health information and services needed to make appropriate health decisions” (Healthy People 2020, 2011). Scholars have demonstrated that health literacy skills are stronger predictors of health status than age, income, employment status, education level, and race or ethnicity. Individuals with inadequate health literacy often struggle with basic tasks when managing a chronic condition such as reading and comprehending prescription bottles, appointment slips, self-management instructions, and educational brochures. The problems are compounded when the individual has several conditions requiring different medications. Inadequate health literacy can be a barrier to controlling disease that can lead to medication errors, increased hospitalization, poor health outcomes, and greater health care costs.
- *Provide an example that illustrates the difference between literacy and health literacy.
- *Describe one potential health-related consequence to low health literacy and a population at risk for this potential consequence, explaining why they are at risk.