Health literacy: how nurses can make a difference

Anne Johnson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Objective To be a call to action to nurses and all health professionals to implement proven effective evidence based strategies that can decrease health literacy demands on health consumers, and improve health outcomes and the provision of safe person-centred health care. Primary argument Health professionals, specifically nurses, are important providers of health information to health consumers. They influence the health literacy demands placed on health consumers through the way they organise, present and communicate information (Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care, 2014). All health professionals need to be cognisant of the range of effective strategies they can implement to reduce the health literacy demands on health consumers through effective interpersonal communication, health materials in the written and visual formats and the creation of health literate environments to improve health outcomes and the provision of safe care. Population measurements of functional health literacy levels (Australian Bureau of Statistics 2008) indicate that 59 per cent of the Australian population aged 15 to 74 years did not achieve an adequate health literacy skill level to meet the complex demands of everyday life and work in a knowledge-based economy. Conclusion An understanding by all health professionals of the concept of health literacy, and the evidence based strategies they can implement to decrease health literacy demands on health consumers is imperative to enhancing the involvement of health consumers in their care, improving health outcomes and in the provision of safe health care.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)20-27
Number of pages8
JournalAustralian Journal of Advanced Nursing
Volume33
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2015

Keywords

  • Health literacy
  • Health literate organisation
  • Patient communication
  • Patient education
  • Social determinants

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