Health Literacy


Health Literacy

Basic literacy and basic health literacy are necessary knowledge, in which individuals should be competent in order to manage their health efficiently. Basic literacy denotes the capacity of an individual to read simple language while health literacy refers to the extent individuals can acquire, process, and apprehend basic health information and services needed to make suitable health judgments (Mastrian & McGonigle, 2012).

Nursing professionals play an important role ensuring people that they increase the health literacy of their patients. Poor health literacy can affect the patient’s ability to follow healthcare instructions. They should ensure that health information is instructed in a language that patients understand. Nurses have to repeat the health instructions to their patients as many times as possible to ensure that they comprehend them before leaving hospital (ODPHP, 2012).

Patients can access health information through various internet sources. They include blogs, social media, patient portals, websites, and mobile applications among others. Information in blogs may lack authority and can be misleading. Social media include avenues like Twitter and Facebook. Members are free to share health information issues. Patient portals provide links to online materials. Members can access information on health matters. In addition, patients can also receive health information through mobile applications. These online sources of health information are not authoritative and can mislead on making health decisions (HSPH, 2010).

Once I admitted a patient who had diagnosed herself through social media. She read about her symptoms in Twitter and gave herself a wrong diagnosis for diabetes mellitus. Therefore, she started taking insulin injections to control the condition as she thought it was diabetes. However, an insulin injection was a wrong medication for her, because in reality she was suffering from liver and kidney dysfunctions. Insulin injections led to the development of a new syndrome of insulin resistance. She had to take metformin therapy to remedy the situation. This reveals the ramifications of using inaccurate internet sources for health information (Urology Times, 2011)

I have identified the trust or trash tool as a resource for evaluating health information sources online. The tool is a quality assessment toolbox that helps to create and evaluate online health information materials (DHHS, 2012).

Some of the strategies I could employ to improve the health literacy of patients include providing patients with a listing of online sources that contain valid health information. In addition, I will convey skills of finding health information to patients at every visit. Also, I will avoid the use of medical jargons when communicating with patients. I will use pictures to clarify concepts to patients. I could ensure a culture change on the techniques for disseminating information to patients in the organization. I will change from the organization’s formal structured system to informal using friendly methods for patients. I will change aspects such as organization brochures to ensure they are precise to patients. I will adopt an informal communication culture with patients to establish a good relationship for boosting their health literacy. I will also ensure the culture of the organization ranks health literacy as one of the top priorities. Culture change will be relevant in establishing communication rapport with patients (Huff, 2011).

In conclusion, obtaining basic health literacy has become difficult with the emergence of internet health information. Some online materials are credible while others may be misleading. Therefore, it is essential to have skills of finding accurate health information from the internet. In addition, nursing practitioners need to adopt new strategies of increasing the health literacy of their patients.



Huff, C. (2011). Does your patient comprehend? H & HN 85(10), 34.

Mastrian, K. G., & McGonigle, D. (2012). Nursing Informatics and the foundation of Knowledge. Burlington, MA: Jones and Bartlett Learning.

Organization of Disease Preclusion and Health Preferment. (2012, June 19th). Health Literacy. Retrieved from

The Harvard School of Public Health. (2010). Health literacy studies. Retrieved from hsph. http://www.hsph.

Urology Times. (2011). Health Literacy: How do your patients rate?

US Department of Health and Human Services. (2012, June 19th). Quick guide to health literacy. Retrieved from




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