Health literacy and health inequalities

Health literacy and health inequalities

"Health inequalities are the unfair and avoidable differences in people's health across social groups and between different population groups. They are most commonly associated with socio-economic inequalities but can also result from discrimination"

(NHS Health Scotland)

 

There are a range of characteristics that can impact on a person’s health literacy, these include education, ethnic background, language, age, illness and financial and social resources. However, you should never make assumptions about a person’s health literacy level as it is not always apparent. Everyone’s health literacy can be affected at any time, for example, when receiving new or distressing
information.

Health literacy is essential for patient safety, self management and effective health and social care relationships with patients, families and carers and is a key determinant of health which can impact on health inequalities. The UCL Institute of Health Equity report that poor health literacy can e linked to unhealthy behaviours and an increased risk of illness and premature mortality. The report which can be found in the related resources below states that improving health literacy has the potential to assist in tackling health inequalities (UCL Institute of Health Equity, 2015).