Health literacy can have a major impact on the health of a patient. This is because if the patient is unable to comprehend the information that is being provided to them by the health professional, they will not be able to take fully informed decisions regarding their health. When a health professional is communicating information to a patient they need to take a step back and evaluate how the patient is comprehending the information they are providing. This essay looks at two main topics. The first one is what health literacy is and how an individual's knowledge can influence how they how see and approach their own health. Second is what strategies a nurse can use to provide better outcomes for themselves and their patients when it comes to health literacy. Included is a personal reflection, which looks at how this student found preparing and conducting a teaching session on food safety to a class in a health literacy setting.
Health has many different definitions, one of which is The World Health Organization definition of health. "Is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity" (Brown & Edwards, 2012). In treating patients with health conditions nurses today need to look at a patient a holistic manner. This encompasses the whole person including environmental and socio – economic determinants that influence their health not just the condition they present with.
Literacy involves having the cognitive and social skills required to participate actively not only in the workplace but also in other areas of society. Having the ability to comprehend any information be it written or verbal gives people the ability to understand the knowledge they have, achieve their personal goals, and live a rich and full lifestyle (Papalia, Duskin Feldman, & Martorell, 2012). This indicates that individuals who are deficient in the area of literacy may not have the full and rich lifestyle that their peers may have.
When health and literacy are placed together there are many different concepts and descriptions that people have. There is a person's knowledge of reading and writing integrated with the ability to use these skills in health related situations (Ministry of Health, 2010). Health literacy is vital for everyone due to the everyday interactions that people may have with health in their communities. It is not just situations where patients are seeing doctors, it also includes a person's interaction with health promotion and education in the wider community (Lynch, 2013). Having literacy levels which are an asset to the individual empowers and enables them to have greater influences on their own health and also the health of whanau and extended support networks (College of Nurses Aotearoa NZ Inc and NZNO, 2012).
When it comes to the issue of health literacy there are many strategies that nurses can use with health literacy. Before any nurse can start they need to take...