October is Health Literacy Month.
This year marks the 22nd anniversary of Health Literacy Month, presented by the Institute for Healthcare Advancement. This annual, worldwide awareness-raising event is a time to promote, integrate, and expand the mission of health literacy, which is defined as how people find, understand, and use information and services to inform health-related decisions and actions. (Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention). It is the degree to which individuals have the capacity to obtain, process, and understand basic health information needed to make appropriate health decisions.
Nearly 9 out of 10 adults struggle to understand and use public health information when it is filled with unfamiliar or complex terms, according to the CDC. Low health literacy is a particular problem for those with limited English proficiency. People who are unable to read or comprehend English are more likely to have chronic conditions and are less able to manage their health issues effectively. This means that they visit the emergency room more often, and they less frequently use preventative services.
Strong knowledge can help prevent health problems, protect one’s well-being, and better manage unexpected situations. Find more facts and information about health literacy.
Health literacy affects everyone.
When organizations or individuals provide others health information that is too difficult to grasp or expect a person to decipher services with unfamiliar, confusing, or even conflicting steps, this creates problems and setbacks.
Health literacy is not simply the ability to read. It requires a complex group of reading, listening, analytical, and decision-making skills and applying these skills to health situations.
Literacy DuPage focuses on health literacy.
We have repeatedly witnessed the struggles amplified by a language barrier. For example:
- The parent who sent her child to school with a doctor’s note saying her son needed an inhaler, but no inhaler accompanied the child. Why? The instruction form was in English, and the mother did not understand the directions to send the inhaler to school with the child.
- The learner who waited to see a doctor due to his poor English-language communication skills. He had a deep cut on his hand and because he delayed seeking treatment, it turned into a full-blown staph infection.
- The countless number of learners who have expressed extreme fear of being able to navigate the emergency room.
At Literacy DuPage, health literacy is at the forefront of our tutoring program. We equip tutors to cover health-related topics with every learner in our one-to-one program. We also maintain active relationships with healthcare organizations throughout the county, encouraging them to notice when language might be a barrier to a patient’s healthcare and refer those patients to Literacy DuPage for help.
Learners with adequate health literacy skills can be active, effective participants in their healthcare.
Together, tutor-learner pairs work on real-life needs and goals. By improving their English language skills, adult learners in the Literacy DuPage program are better equipped and informed to:
- Locate and access healthcare providers and resources
- Identify ailments and describe symptoms
- Understand a doctor’s instructions after an injury
- Determine correct prescription dosages and measurements and read medicine instructions
- Choose appropriate over-the-counter medication
- Recognize an emergency and practice calling 9-1-1
- Practice beneficial eating and exercise habits
We are committed to giving our adult learners the skills they need to be strong communicators and healthy community members!