Inadequate Health Literacy Is A Hidden Crisis Essay

Decent Essays
Inadequate health literacy is a hidden crisis that is plaguing our nation. The ability to obtain, process, and understand health information needed to make informed health decisions is known as health literacy. The current health care system is biased on the notion that patients can fully comprehend health information and navigate through a complex health system. According to the 2003 National Assessment of Adult Literacy, only 12% of adults in the United States have proficient health literacy, while 30 million Americans have literacy skills defined as "below basic." These patients have difficulty comprehending that labels of their prescriptions or even understanding a future follow-up appointment slip. The limited health literacy of results in poor health outcomes and increase financial burden on the health system; nevertheless, active health educators such a pharmacist can help patients navigate through the labyrinth of health information to make rational health decisions. Unfortunately, low health literacy is very common in the United States. The factors that affect an individual’s literacy skills include age, education, language, and socioeconomic status. Individuals with lower income, limited education, minority populations, and the elderly are at very high risk of low health literacy and the poor health outcomes associated with it. It is evident that as people age their cognitive functions decline. As a result, the majority of the elderly population is unaware or
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