Health Literacy - Taking action to improve safety and quality
Health literacy is a significant issue for Australia and is important because it shapes people’s health and the safety and quality of health care.
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Health literacy is about how people understand information about health and health care, and how they apply that information to their lives, use it to make decisions and act on it.
Health information and systems have become increasingly complex and harder to understand. Like many other developed countries, almost 60% of adult Australians have low individual health literacy, which means they may not be able to effectively exercise their choice or voice when making healthcare decisions. Low individual health literacy is associated with higher use of health services, low levels of knowledge among consumers and poorer health outcomes.
To address health literacy in a coordinated way in Australia, it is necessary to:
- Embed health literacy into high-level systems and organisational policies and practices
- Ensure that health information is clear, focused and useable, and that interpersonal communication is effective
- Integrate health literacy into education for consumers and healthcare providers.