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Health Literacy

Health Literacy helps to address how people ACCESS, UNDERSTAND and APPLY health information to themselves.

Health literacy encompasses an individual’s health literacy skills, access to information and health services, how services are structured, and how healthcare professionals provide and communicate information. It also looks at the complexity of the health system with the view to help users easily navigate specific services.

Sydney North Primary Health Network approaches health literacy in three specific ways:

  • Functional Health Literacy: The individual skills people need to read, write and comprehend information.
  • Environmental Health Literacy: The way services are delivered and provide health information.
  • Conceptual Health Literacy: The way the health system organises access to information and services.

Research shows 59 percent of Australians have low health literacy levels. This mean many people in Australia struggle to navigate the healthcare system, understand prescriptions and diagnoses, manage their chronic disease and/or provide informed consent. It can also affect people’s ability to make daily decisions in regards to nutrition, exercise and disease prevention.

Everyone can help improve health literacy; here are some resources that could help:

North Western Melbourne Primary Health Network have created several resources to help community and clinicians. Watch their Teach Back Method video:

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