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Saturday, 25th July 2015

UK: National Literacy Trust Hubs: Understanding the Role of Literacy in Public Health

Source: National Literacy Trust (UK)

From What is the relationship between health and literacy?:

Evidence demonstrates a clear link between low literacy and poor health. In 2008 the National Literacy Trust published a paper highlighting the association between low literacy and poor health outcomes. In 2014, we explored the direct nature of this relationship, demonstrating that those with low literacy were up to 18 times more likely to take their prescriptions incorrectly, significantly less likely to understand symptoms of a medical condition such as diabetes or asthma, and more likely to rate their health as “very poor” than those with better literacy skills.

This paper goes further to argue that literacy skills comprise a fundamental area of public health. Literacy is directly related to health because it provides individuals with the skills to obtain, process, understand, appraise and apply information relating to their own health and behaviours. This capability, combined with motivation and knowledge, is understood as health literacy, and evidence shows that measures used to signify health literacy are highly correlated with other standard literacy tests. In practical terms, this means that literacy impacts an individual’s ability to learn about disease prevention and health promotion, follow health care regimens, and communicate about health messages with other people.

+ Direct link to document (PDF; 486 KB)



Having begun his career in academic libraries, Adrian Janes has subsequently worked extensively in public libraries, chiefly in enquiry work as an Information Services librarian. In this role he has had particular responsibility for information from both the UK Government and the European Union. He wrote a detailed report on sources for the latter which was published by FreePint in 2007, and has contributed articles to FreePint and ResourceShelf. He is involved in training in information literacy and the use of online reference resources.

A Contributing Editor to DocuTicker, he also write reviews for Pennyblackmusic.

More articles by Adrian Janes »

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