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Health Literacy: What's your Health Literacy IQ?

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Health literacy is the degree to which individuals have the capacity to obtain, process, and understand basic health information and services needed to make appropriate health decisions.  

What do you know about health literacy?   Take this short quiz to find out.

Low health literacy has been linked to:

A)    An increase in preventable hospital visits and admissions

B)    Higher use of emergency services

C)    Increase in chronic conditions

D)    All of the above

Answer (D).  Low health literacy leads to poor health outcomes.

According to the National Assessment of Adult Literacy, what percentage of adults have Proficient health literacy?

A)    12%

B)    21%

C)    43%

D)    61%

Answer (A). Nearly nine out of ten adults may lack the skills needed to manage their health and prevent disease.

A patient’s health literacy requires:

A)    Dependable transportation

B)    Numerical skills

C)    A healthcare advocate to accompany patients to appointments

D)    Knowledge of population health

Answer (B). Health literacy includes numeracy skills. For example, calculating cholesterol and blood sugar levels, measuring medications, and understanding nutrition labels all require math skills. Choosing between health plans or comparing prescription drug coverage requires calculating premiums, copays, and deductibles.

Pick the one FALSE statement.   Persons with limited health literacy skills:

A)    Make greater use of services designed to treat complications of disease

B)    make less use of services designed to prevent complications

C)    Have a higher rate of hospitalization and use of emergency services

D)    Are associated with lower healthcare costs.

Answer (D).  Persons with limited health literacy skills make greater use of services designed to treat complications of disease and less use of services designed to prevent complications. Studies demonstrate a higher rate of hospitalization and use of emergency services among patients with limited health literacy skills. This higher use is associated with higher healthcare costs.

Which of these is NOT a factor that affects a person’s health literacy?

A)    Age

B)    Language

C)    Gender

D)    Education

Answer (C).  Education, language, culture, access to resources, and age are all factors that affect a person's health literacy skills.

Who is responsible for improving health literacy?

The primary responsibility for improving health literacy lies with public health professionals and the healthcare and public health systems. We must work together to ensure that health information and services can be understood and used by all Americans. We must engage in skill building with healthcare consumers and health professionals. Adult educators can be productive partners in reaching adults with limited literacy skills.

Health literacy affects all aspects of care including patient safety and clinical outcomes.

Health literacy information provided by www.health.gov