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Health literacy is a key part of healthcare decision-making


Health literacy is different from literacy, which is a person's reading and writing skills. Health literacy also includes math skills and knowledge of health topics and the human body. Although important through all stages of life, menopause is a key time to consider health literacy.

What is health literacy?

Health Literacy is a way of describing the skills people need to look after their health. It plays an important role in how patients are able to understand and act on health information. It can be difficult for people to manage decisions about healthcare for themselves or their loved ones. Health literacy can help patients protect their health, understand health problems, and perhaps avoid or manage some of them.

How does health literacy relate to decision-making?

Clear health communication between healthcare professionals and patients can help to improve health literacy and understanding. Healthcare literacy relates to all aspects of healthcare decision-making. People may have questions about their medical problem, its symptoms, possible treatments or medicines or preventative care. They may have to weigh the benefits and risks associated with possible treatments and make choices. They may also have to consider insurance or cost information. These are only a few of the examples of issues and decisions that need to be considered in partnership with a healthcare provider.

What does healthcare literacy have to do with menopause?

All women go through menopause and yet they may find it difficult to discuss with their doctor. Women may have questions about menopause, its symptoms, or the risks and benefits associated with potential treatments that they may consider with their healthcare professional. Knowing the questions to ask providers and gaining an understanding of the answers to those questions to make decisions are all a part of health literacy.


Why is health literacy important?

It is important to think about health literacy because there seems to be a link between lower levels of health literacy and poorer health outcomes. For example, people with lower levels of health literacy may tend to go to the hospital more or use preventative services less. By improving health literacy, patients may be able to make better choices about their health.

Can a person's health literacy be enhanced?

There are many ways to help enhance health literacy. It’s normal to need help understanding health care information to make decisions.

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