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October is Health Literacy Month

Posted by on October 30th, 2018

This past month of October has been Health Literacy Month, but educating others and keeping up with new developments does not end in two days.

Health literacy refers to a person’s ability to get the health information and services that they need, and also how well they understand them in order to make better health decisions (MedlinePlus). At a base level this requires the ability to read, but also a complex set of skills combining the ability to:

  • read and understand medical words;
  • think critically;
  • have the skill to navigate prescription information;
  • understand health insurance policies;
  • calculate premiums or deductibles, and much more.

An example of a health literacy skill is called “numeracy”. Numeracy refers to being able to work with and understand numbers; for example, calculating the correct dosage of liquid medication for a child.

USMC-100209-M-1998T-001.jpg from Wikimedia Commons via Public Domain

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention health literacy page, health literate organizations can help to remove barriers and improve health literacy by helping people to:

• Find
• Process
• Understand
• Decide on health information and services

For further definitions and resources on Health Literacy from NNLM, go to our Health Literacy page at https://nnlm.gov/initiatives/topics/health-literacy

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