Health Literacy Research Paper

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Health literacy is defined as “the degree to which individuals can obtain, process, and understand the basic information and services they need to make appropriate health decisions” (Jacobson). According to the National Assessment of Adult Literacy only twelve percent of adults in the United States are proficient in health literacy. This paper proposes that health literacy in the U.S. is dangerously inadequate and the problem is a serious deficit in our health care and education systems. People with limited literacy have many struggles they have to face, and one major challenges is the ability to navigate the medical field. Yet, low health literacy not only affects individuals who struggle with English. It also impacts individuals who have …show more content…
People have very strong opinions about how healthcare should be paid for and how much health care should be provided. Nevertheless, if health literacy is so dramatically low, then why is it not an issue better known to the general public or a rallying cry in the health field? In part, it is for the same reason that many social justice issues are not well known. The population most seriously affected by health illiteracy does not have the means, or the power, or the know-how to bring attention to the problem. Also, while some physicians, pharmacists, and web designers are attempting to improve the patient’s understanding of their own health, many others are not making it a priority. The government has information in place for health care professionals, but it is clearly not effective if eighty-eight percent of the population is considered health illiterate. A much more rigorous health education in middle and high schools directed toward stronger health literacy would be a positive step but this would require funding for those classes at a time when schools are cutting anything possible. Finally, patients are reluctant to share their lack of understanding with their doctors, or worse they mistakenly believe they do understand directions when actually their understanding will lead them to incorrectly follow

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