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  • Writer's pictureCommunity Wellbeing San Diego

Health Literacy: Still a Challenge for Communities?

Did you know that people with limited health literacy skills are 7-8X more likely to die unnecessarily from a chronic disease?

While socioeconomic factors such as race/ethnicity, age, income, and employment have been recognized as important indicators of health outcomes, the significance of health literacy in affecting health outcomes has been largely overlooked. The American Medical Association, in fact, indicates that poor health literacy may be one of the stronger predictors of health outcomes than other factors.

The effects of poor health literacy on health outcomes include higher mortality rates, higher healthcare costs, lower patient satisfaction with care, lower quality of care, and emergency department overuse.

In assessing the relationship between health literacy and healthcare outcomes, The Joint Commission — a nonprofit accrediting more than 21,000 US healthcare organizations — concluded that low health literacy, cultural barriers, and limited English proficiency are the "triple threat" to effective health communication.

Please comment below if you believe improving your health literacy can better your health outcomes.



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Health literacy is the ability of individuals to gain access to, understand and use information in ways which promote and maintain good health for themselves, their families and their communities.

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