Health Literacy Essay

896 words - 4 pages


Health education is a vital role within nursing, as it can assist individuals, their families and whanau to make informed choices to maintain and improve their health (Crisp & Taylor, 2009). Within New Zealand, poor health literacy rates are of concern. Statistics show 56.2% of New Zealand adults scored beneath the minimum requirement to meet the daily demands of life and work (Ministry of Health, 2010). The purpose of this assignment is to discuss health literacy, as well as to provide strategies that can be applied to improve health literacy rates within New Zealand. A reflection on how learning about health literacy will contribute to future nursing practice will conclude ...view middle of the document...

People with reduced levels of health literacy are more likely to be admitted to hospital, access emergency services more frequently, are less likely to participate in screening and immunisation programmes, are prone to increased risk in medication misuse and have a lower ability to decipher labels and vital health messages (NZNO & College of Nurses, 2012).

There is also the issue of informed consent. The Health & Disability Code of Rights Regulation 1996 clearly identifies all consumers have the right to effective communication and to be fully informed (Health & Disability Commissioner Act 2009). Valid consent cannot be given by someone who has not received sufficient information (Health & Disability Commissioner Act 2009). Moreover, if health information is not presented in a way the consumer understands this can cause legal implications to the health professional involved.


By developing skills for health illiterate consumers and reducing literacy demands of the health sector, this will improve poor health outcomes (Ministry of Health, 2012). To boost health literacy amongst New Zealand’s population, initiatives need to be implemented from all sectors such as government agencies, schools and within healthcare organisations (Ministry of Health, 2010). Strategies to achieve this goal could include, however are not limited to:

Effective communication is vital to empowering people. This can be accomplished by utilizing simple terminology and steering clear from medical jargon, which in turn promotes active listening (McEwen & Pullis, 2009). Audiences prefer clear, accurate and easy-to-follow material. If health information is presented in an uninteresting or difficult to understand structure, it is more likely the client will disengage, resulting in poor teaching outcomes (Ministry of Health, 2012). Therefore, by ensuring teaching sessions are specific, target group positioned, clear and concise, this should support health literacy...

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