According to the Institute of Medicine’s report, health literacy refers to the degree to which individuals have the capacity to obtain, process, and understand basic health information and services needed to make appropriate health decisions. Alternatively, according to the Calgary Charter, when we ask what is health literacy, it is the use of a wide range of skills that improve people’s ability to act on information to live healthier lives.
Time and again, experts have advised on the importance of health literacy. However, it’s sad to note that health literacy levels are still low in the USA. Those with low health literacy levels usually suffer a number of impacts. Here are some of the said impacts.
Each year, millions of people with low health literacy levels succumb to diseases they could have foreseen and prevented. Because of their low health literacy levels, these victims are usually unable to make the correct health decisions. When one is health literate, he/she understands the importance of seeking medical attention when he/she is sick. When one is not health literate, he/she might not understand this importance. To avoid early, preventable death, it’s advised that health literacy levels be improved.
Poor Medication Taking Habits
Although it’s a doctor’s primary duty to diagnose his/her patient’s ailment, it’s the patient’s sole duty to take the medication as prescribed. In the past, many have lost their lives due to poor medication-taking habits. Studies show that most individuals with low literacy levels tend not to take medication as required. Some illiterate individuals have accidentally overdosed in some instances due to not correctly understanding the doctor’s instructions.
Poor Response to Public Healthy Living Campaigns
Over the last couple of years, the government has increased funding for public healthy living campaigns. Health specialists usually lecture the public on the best way to achieve healthy living through public health living campaigns. However, the campaigns are of little impact to those that are not health literate.
Less Likelihood to Engage with Disease Prevention
Now and again, well-trained and experienced scientists usually come up with life-changing vaccinations. Using their immense knowledge, they usually develop cutting-edge disease prevention mechanisms. However, as much as there are many strides achieved by scientists in medicine, many individuals with low health literacy levels usually disregard these mechanisms. In the long run, some, unfortunately, pay the ultimate price.
Few Healthy Behaviors
Those with low health literacy levels usually have a few healthy behaviors. Because of their low health literacy levels, these individuals don’t usually take serious medical advice dished out to them by professionals. The more one has unhealthy behaviors, the higher his/her chances of dying early.
As shown above, low health literacy levels usually have many negative impacts on society. The more health literate you are, the more informed you are. There is nothing as painful as losing a loved one to a preventable disease. To avoid such suffering, make a point of improving your health literacy levels as well as the literacy levels of your loved ones.