What Is Health Liteacy And Why Is It So Important?

Have you ever found yourself up late, feeling sick and searching online for home remedies? If yes, you know the difficulties in navigating medical information. Even a regular check-up at your clinic can mean sifting through a variety of terminology surrounding a new diagnosis or medication.

The reality is that Health Care and medicine are complex fields, with new research and protocols being added every day. Doctors and nurses with the best training and excellent communication skills can easily overload a patient who lacks experience and perspective when it comes to disease, prognosis and treatment.

That’s because the expertise medical providers offer is ideally paired with patients who are prepared and empowered when it comes to their health. This is where the concept of “health literacy” enters the picture.

What does it take to become a wellness coordinator?

There’s no set-in-stone path for becoming a wellness coordinator—in part because the responsibilities associated with this job title can vary substantially from employer to employer. That said, wellness coordinators working in a corporate environment will likely need a strong educational foundation.

A Health and Wellness degree can help. With courses covering subjects like Health Education and Training, Healthcare Advocacy, Business Research and Analysis, Healthcare and Aging, and Epidemiology, graduates will have an excellent base to launch a wellness-focused career from.

Ready to do your part?

Wellness is a field that is always going to be relevant as modern healthcare continues to expand its reach and organizations seek out ways to keep their employees as happier and healthier contributors.

If this field sounds like a good fit for you, you may want to further explore what other types of jobs are available in this space. Our article “What Can You Do With a Health and Wellness Degree?” lays out some additional appealing options.

What is health literacy?

“Simply put, health literacy is how we receive, interpret and act on health information,” says Akeia Blue, health communications consultant at Be Health Literate.

Blue offers some examples of how health literacy skills apply to real-world situations.

“A person may not understand essential things such as how and when to take a prescribed medication, how to know when it is appropriate to go to the emergency room rather than a primary care doctor or how to explain signs and symptoms they are experiencing,” Blue explains.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) officially defines health literacy as the ability to “obtain, communicate, process and understand basic health information and services.”1 Just like reading literacy gives you skills to understand and use written information, health literacy refers to the skills you need to understand and make good decisions about your health.

But these skills aren’t just important on an individual level. Parents, caregivers and many others are tasked with Medical Decision-making that goes beyond their own personal concerns. Organizations must also make health literate choices, says Beth Hoffman, a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health.

Hoffman cites the Healthy People 2030 initiative from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services as key in shaping broader institutional perspectives.

“Healthy People 2030 defines organizational health literacy as the degree to which organizations equitably enable individuals to be health literate,” Hoffman explains.