Low health literacy is linked to poor health outcomes, higher rates of hospitalizations and less frequent use of preventive services. According to the National Assessment of Adult Literacy, only 12 percent of adults have Proficient health literacy skills. In fact, 9 out of 10 adults do not have the adequate skills to manage their health and preventive care needs. Populations most at risk 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 speaker of English, and people with comprised health status. Low health literacy also contributes to reported significant levels of shame, which acts as a strong barrier to help seeking behavior. People with limited health literacy skills are also more likely to have multiple chronic conditions and are less equipped to effectively manage their health needs.
Join the work of addressing health literacy needs. Read the National Action Plan to Improve Health Literacy and see where your organization matches the needs of these goals. Consider the many variables that impact health literacy and effective communication of care.