Why Health Literacy

Health literacy is essential for patient safety, self management and effective health and social care relationships with patients, families and carers. Improving

  • Improved health and health outcomes for patients
  • Better patient and professional relationships
  • Improved understanding of medication information,
    instruction and adherence
  • Reduced risk of serious health problems resulting from
    misunderstanding and communication
  • Reduced re-admissions and repeat appointments
  • Reduced health inequalities


There are many definitions of health literacy available, the national health literacy action plan defines health literacy as:

“Health literacy is about people having enough knowledge,  understanding, skills and confidence to use health information, to be active partners in their care, and to navigate health and social care systems”

Health literacy relates to a range of communications including, written, spoken and visual. All health and social care staff in Scotland have a responsibility to support health literacy.

"This is bad enough" - by Elspeth Murray

Elspeth Murray’s poem “This is Bad Enough” underscores the importance of taking health literacy demands into account when communicating health information or interacting with patients in a healthcare setting.

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