Why we need investment in health literacy?
Many people who deal effectively with other aspects of their lives find health information difficult to obtain, understand, or use. Patients are often faced with complex information and treatment decisions.
International research has shown that patients who are better informed about their health have more effective consultations with their health care provider, are better informed about the medicines they are prescribed, are more likely to comply with their medication and as a result have improved health outcomes.
The EU Health Literacy Survey (2010) showed that 38.8% of Irish people have ‘limited’ health literacy. This has huge implications for the health service and practitioners and makes health literacy a key issue to delivering a quality service.
Irish research in 2015, shows that Irish people want healthcare professionals to use less medical jargon:
- Two in five (39%) Irish people are calling for doctors, nurses and pharmacists to use more understandable language and less medical jargon. This was followed by speaking less formally (22%) and taking more time to explain things (18%).
- 17% of people surveyed said they had taken the wrong amount of medication on at least one occasion.
- People aged 15 – 34 years were least likely to ask a doctor, nurse or pharmacist to explain things they don’t understand.
- Embarrassment was ranked as the main reason for not seeking more information from a healthcare professional (24%).