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Health literacy is an individual's or a community's capacity to comprehend, receive, read, and use relevant healthcare information and services. The World Health Organization (WHO, 2018) defines health literacy as the cognitive and social skills that determine the ability of individuals to gain access to, understand, and use information in ways that promote and maintain good health. As a result, the WHO helps individuals manage long-term health concerns, participate in preventative programs, choose healthy lifestyles, make accurate healthcare decisions, and stick to drug regimens.

Low health literacy is a serious issue that leads to increased emergency room visits, hospitalizations, and readmissions. Older adults, minority populations, immigrants, people of low income, those without a high school education, and those with long-term mental and physical health disorders are the most likely at risk for low health literacy. In addition, many people struggle to comprehend health information because of technical, medical jargon and the emotional weakness caused by a severe health condition that needs sophisticated self-care.

To overcome these issues, healthcare professionals should take the following steps.

  • First, assess the learner's health literacy level to prepare training strategies in advance.
  • Second, establish a therapeutic connection—people with poor health literacy or learning difficulties may be embarrassed about their failure to grasp and may pretend that they have.
  • Finally, check for any learning difficulties and identify any special requirements of the learner.
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