October is Health Literacy Month and a perfect time to highlight the importance of knowing and understanding your health diagnoses and care. Health literacy is the ability to read, understand, remember, and use information to make decisions about your health.
When it comes to Health Literacy, there are two different types:
- Personal Health Literacy, which is how well a person can find, understand, and use the available services about their own health and the health of others.
- Organizational Health Literacy is how well organizations equitably help all people find, understand, and use the available services to make decisions about their own health and the health of others.
According to the DOH, 1 in 10 adults in the United States has proficient health literacy. That means a staggering 9 in 10 adults in the United States need help finding, understanding, and using health literacy.
Many patients can become embarrassed by their health literacy skills making them not want to speak up to their doctors and other medical professionals to ask questions. One way to become more engaged at doctor’s appointments is by using “Ask Me 3 Questions”:
- What is my main problem?
- What do I need to do?
- Why is it important for me to do this?
By asking these three questions, a patient is being proactive and gaining more knowledge about their medical diagnosis.
Go to MyHealthfinder | health.gov to make sure you’re up to date on preventative services.
On the other side, medical professionals and those working in healthcare need to be sure their resource information is clear and easy to understand to be equitable – medical resources and information should be written at a grade 6-7 reading level according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
For more information on health literacy, visit Health Literacy (pa.gov).