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Belfast Healthy Cities

Our vision is to be a leader in creating
a healthy, equitable and sustainable city

Healthy Cities 21st Century

What Is Health Literacy?

The World Health Organization defines health literacy as ‘linked to literacy and entails people’s knowledge, motivation and competences to access, understand, appraise and apply health information in order to make judgements and take decisions in everyday life concerning health care, disease prevention and health promotion to maintain or improve quality of life during the life course’. (WHO, 2013)

Health literacy is increasingly being recognised as an important factor influencing people and communities make informed decisions about their health.  People with low health literacy are more likely to have difficulty understanding labelling and taking medication as directed, have higher rates of hospital admissions and are more likely to experience problems managing their own health and their children’s health.

The European Health Literacy Survey (2012) identified 47% people on average experience difficulty accessing health information, understanding it and using the information to make informed choices about their health.

Chief Medical Officer for Northern Ireland, Dr Michael McBride outlines the importance of health literacy to support health professionals and as a core theme within Making Life Better.