Education is the factor to acquire knowledge about everything. Health education is the social core factor to spread knowledge about the health care tasks. Health literacy deals with the capacity of an individual to obtain, process and understand the basics for making a proper health decision.
Health literacy determines the standards of language, literacy and numeracy of a person regarding to his health outcomes. It enable a common person to understand the basic health care tasks in two categories i.e. one is to understand the language and numeracy of superficial factors and the other concerns with the in-depth understanding of the health condition.
Some of the basic healthcare task necessary having health literacy includes:
- Finding appropriate hospital department having scientific names like nephrology, psychological, ophthalmic departments.
- Communicating with basic advice and suggestion on health conditions with health care providers
- Filling several information related to health condition records in medical forms, insurance form of healthcare services.
- Developing conceptual and cultural knowledge about the health conditions or certain problems.
Whereas not everyone is a panto-math of health literacy. Low health literacy means to have an inadequate amount of knowledge regarding the two factors which are described above. People with low health literacy suffer from performing the basic tasks for taking a person or own care. Some of the basic difficulties face by a person with low health literacy includes:
- More use of healthcare services without developing the knowledge of health conditions.
- Facing difficulty in following the medical instructions and prescriptions given by doctors.
- Have worst physical or mental conditions due to insufficient understanding of a health condition.
Effects of Low Health Literacy
Low literacy is the biggest concern in UK these days. According to several studies it has been observed that in England 43% of adults (18-65) are at Level 1 and below and do not have adequate literacy skills to routinely understand health information. When numeracy is involved this rises to 61%. The bar for numeracy is set even lower than literacy, which means that 61% of adults in England are at entry level 3 and below in terms of their numeracy skills i.e. what an 11 year old would be expected to do.
In simple word it is easy to determine that number of people in UK are unaware of the basic technicalities and understanding of the health problems leading to more low health literacy. This eventually means that a person is simply unable to understand his health and well-being. Here are some effects that are caused by low health literacy:
- Shorter Life Expectancy: The people with low health literacy tends to die earlier because of their lack of knowledge related to disease or symptoms of diseases.
- Carrying Long term diseases with no knowledge: The people with low health literacy are carriers of one or more than one long-term condition which they are unable to understand throughout their lives. Also they do not bother to get routine checkup or run tests to have an idea about their health conditions.
- Inactive to prevention’s: The people with low health literacy never understand the importance of medical campaigns or preventive treatments that are provided to them for free to save their own life. They do not bother to engage themselves in activities of regulation cancer screening or immunization etc.
- Unhealthy behaviors: The people with low health literacy also tends to develop irrational and irritating behaviors towards their health and to the people who try to guide them. They are more destructive towards their health conditions.
On the contrary, it is said that people develop health literacy when they are encountered with a medical condition. Whereas it is important to develop knowledge for low health literacy in people before such condition. Many healthcare organization are working for guiding people to combat with the negative impacts of low health literacy through several strategies.