This month is dedicated to raising awareness about the importance of health literacy and how
to improve it. According to the World Health Organization, health literacy is “the ability to
access, understand, and use information in order to make informed decisions about health.”
This includes understanding health problems and solutions, reading food labels and
recognizing advertising claims, and knowing when to seek medical care.
Despite its importance, poor health literacy is shockingly common: one study found that more
than half of American adults have difficulty understanding basic health information. This
presents a major obstacle to getting good healthcare and raises the risk of serious health
Fortunately, there are steps we can take to improve our health literacy. For starters, we can
educate ourselves on any chronic health conditions we have, the basics of good nutrition,
disease prevention, and first aid. We can also ask our doctors and nurses questions, read up on
medical conditions online, and consult with trusted friends or family members for advice. In
addition, having a nurse advocate on your medical team can provide education and assistance
in increasing your health literacy.
Improving our health literacy is an important step towards taking control of our own
healthcare and achieving better overall health. Take some time to learn more about health
literacy and how it can benefit you. You may be surprised at how much it can help you
improve your overall health!

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