Health literacy plays a crucial role in empowering individuals to make informed decisions about their health. It’s about understanding health information, navigating healthcare systems, and advocating for your own wellbeing. Therefore, to help people become empowered in being able to take the actions they need to is a really important part of our mission in helping to reduce health inequalities.
Healthcare systems can be seen as complicated, and it’s often those with the greatest needs who require the most support, have the lowest levels of health literacy and therefore suffer from poorer health outcomes and lower levels of wellbeing. It is also important to make sure that individuals are digitally included – in an increasingly digital world, individuals should have access to digital and health solutions, so that it does not impact their access to services.
From a health perspective, the impacts for individuals with lower levels of health literacy include:
- Experience significantly more negative outcomes across a range of health indicators
- Higher likelihood of developing negative health behaviours
- Less likely to make informed lifestyle choices and engage with preventative programmes or services
- Higher levels of premature death
- Less able to manage long term conditions
- Less likely to adhered to medication
How do we do it?
Supported by community partners, communities and people with lived experience, we organised a programme of workshops to understand challenges and explore solutions that are usually associated with health and digital literacy to increase access to health improvement support.
The information that was gathered from the sessions, we use to identify the barriers and challenges to understanding and interpreting health information. Our team can then make recommendations on how information and communication for people experiencing health inequalities could be improved.
We wanted to explore the barriers and potential solutions to better health with local people, particularly those who experience the most significant health inequalities. This research was framed in the context of health and digital literacy, for example: ‘do people understand and can they access health information and support?’
Through building a better understanding of the challenges in improving heath and digital literacy for our communities, we aim for that to then help with health service improvements and ultimately reduce the health inequity experienced by people in our communities.
We even had some graphics made as a visual representation of some of the answers we received that we had made from our sessions, as a great reminder.