Health Literacy

Literacy involves listening, speaking, reading, writing, numeracy and using everyday technology to communicate and handle information. It includes more than the technical skills of communication: it also has personal, social and economic dimensions. Literacy increases the opportunity for individuals to reflect on their situation and initiate change. Health literacy is defined as:

‘ability to make sound health decisions in the context of everyday life - at home, in the community, at the workplace, the healthcare system, the market place and the political arena’ (Kickbusch et al 2005).

Health literacy is an issue that challenges everyone to varying degrees. People who do not experience literacy difficulties in other areas of life may easily experience difficulty in healthcare settings because they are not used to the setting or indeed the vocabulary. They can struggle to make sense of health related materials with unfamiliar concepts. Emotions can also play a part - when people feel vulnerable and scared their ability to understand information is inhibited.


Literacy Audit in Health Care Settings.pdf (size 3.6 MB)

Plain Language Style Guide for Documents.pdf (size 2.2 MB)