Health literacy is a well-recognized asset across the globe as an effective evidence-based strategy for improving health outcomes and reducing healthcare costs. Low levels of health literacy can adversely affect a person’s state of health, personal development, and quality of life in general. The purpose of this essay is to consider the importance of health literacy and the role of healthcare providers in its promotion.
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Role of Health Literacy
Health literacy is about making informed decisions and taking actions to promote and protect health and prevent disease. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2019), “health literacy is the degree to which an individual can obtain, communicate, process, and understand basic health information and services to make appropriate health decisions” (para. 1). Researchers note that health-literate patients are more able to make healthy lifestyle choices, have better communication and interaction with healthcare providers, access information and services, and manage chronic diseases (Poureslami, Nimmon, Rootman, & Fitzgerald, 2017). It is the role of every health practitioner, including a DNP-educated nurse, to promote health literacy.
Health Prevention Strategies
Health literacy is a significant part of health promotion that aims at encouraging both patients and health workers to make efforts to improve health indicators and the health system, as a whole. There are numerous ways of how a nursing practitioner can contribute to disease prevention and the promotion of health literacy. Practical actions may include using audio-visual models and pictures instead of text, using demonstration, highlighting take-home points, using plain language with patients, and conveying significant concepts.
According to Brach (2017), health workers have to encourage patients to self-manage and actively participate in their care. Self-care can include family support, connecting patients with website resources, health education, and other community-based resources. These strategies are effective methods for disease prevention because they make patients know how to prevent the spread of disease and not to be in the risk group.
Healthcare providers have a role in building a trusting relationship with patients and delivering messages in a way that patients can understand. The primary task of every medical worker is to help patients to comprehend, evaluate, and use health information to increase the effectiveness in treating people and the efficiency of the entire healthcare system. Health professionals should use health literacy strategies on an ongoing basis and with all patients.
Brach, C. (2017). The journey to become a health literate organization: A snapshot of health system improvement. Studies in Health Technology and Informatics, 240, 203-237.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2019). What is health literacy. Web.
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Poureslami, I., Nimmon, L., Rootman, I., & Fitzgerald, M. J. (2017). Health literacy and chronic disease management: Drawing from expert knowledge to set an agenda. Health Promotion International, 32(4), 743-754.