Health Literacy

Last updated Monday 18th October 2021

Health literacy is about people having enough knowledge, understanding, skills and confidence to use health information, to be active partners in their care, and to navigate health and social care systems. Therefore, to access, assess and apply health information, people need to be health literate. The health literacy levels in England are very low: 43% of 16 to 65-year-olds struggle with text-based health information; and 61% of 16 to 65-year-olds cannot understand health information that includes both text and numbers (Rowlands et al., 2015. View article).

People working in health and social care need to be aware of health literacy and of the techniques that can help to increase understanding.

Promoting health literacy is everyone’s responsibility. NHS Education for Scotland (NES) and Health Education England (HEE) have collaborated to develop a new elearning module to help you understand the role health literacy plays in making sure everyone has enough knowledge, understanding, skills and confidence to use health information, to be active partners in their care, and to navigate health and social care systems.

The elearning session takes about 30 minutes to complete.  At the end of the session, you will know why health literacy is important and how to use some simple techniques including TeachBack, chunk and check, using pictures and simple language to improve how you communicate and check understanding with others. After each section you can complete an action plan of how you intend to use the techniques in your practice. You can use this plan as evidence of your learning in your appraisal or professional portfolio.

Learning objectives:

  • List the benefits of health literacy to individuals and services
  • List health literacy tools and techniques
  • Explain how to use health literacy tools and techniques
  • Describe the impact of health literacy on people’s health choices
  • Create a personal action plan to be health literacy friendly