Health Literacy - Article Review Essay Sample

Published: 2022-07-28
Health Literacy - Article Review Essay Sample
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  Community health
Pages: 4
Wordcount: 918 words
8 min read

Thought and Synthesis

The chosen article is "Health Literacy" written by the National Network of Libraries of Medicine. It examines the meaning of health literacy in different dimensions as defined by various authors. The purpose is to establish the importance of health literacy to patients or people and how it impacts on their acceptance to treatment or any other health care services from the professionals. Primarily, the article poses health literacy as a critical aspect for people in making informed health decisions. The text considers health literacy as a crucial determinant of health among populations. In that case, different elements have been given priority in understanding and applying health literacy in various contexts including the importance of culture and health literacy skills, low health literacy and its impact, and the responsibility of the consumer health librarian.

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Importance of Culture and Health Literacy Skills

Looking at the definitions of health literacy, they are all based on one common aspect of informing patients with the intention of making the appropriate health decisions. I think that the article emphasizes the critical skills that healthcare professionals should apply to health literacy. The issue is that health literacy is impacted by culture as people from various cultures may have different capabilities of understanding health information. The skills are essential in understanding these cultures and the approach to providing health information to their best ability to comprehend. As noted in this article, I believe that healthcare professionals have the responsibility of applying health literacy skills such as oral language, question-answer sessions, decision-making, capacity to use the internets to search for health information and evaluate websites. These are critical skills that provide healthcare professionals with the knowledge on how to educate patients about their health concerns, disease symptoms, medical advice and treatment directions. Without these skills, it is difficult to explain and convince patients to make treatment decisions when faced with complicated information.

Low Health literacy and its Impact

The National Network of Libraries Medicine (n.d) reveals that low health literacy is linked to different aspects such as more visits to the emergency room and hospitalization as well as increased risk of death. Having low levels of health literacy is dangerous to people as it prevents them from using the available healthcare services. It shows that such a population will have a higher prevalence of preventable and treatable illnesses. They have a likeliness of utilizing expensive medical services that could have been prevented if they accessed health care services early. These findings support those of Kickbusch, Pelikan, Apfel, and Tsouros (2013) report whereby weak health literacy is associated with poorer health, more health costs and hospitalization, riskier health behavior and less self-management.

As per the article, the people vulnerable to low health literacy include the minorities, immigrants, low-income households and older adults due to lower educational levels, a decline in cognitive ability, and reading incapability among other factors. I think that it was crucial to use evidence from research performed by experts in the field such as Bennett, Chen, Soroui and White (2009) and Baker, Wolf, Feinglass, Thompson, Gazmararian, and Huang (2007). These findings show that the article has supporting evidence of the notion that that low health literacy among populations causes an increased chance of getting common illnesses and higher mortality rates. The incident rates for chronic disease among people with low health literacy are also high. The fact that people have a low likeliness of using preventive care, it explains their higher chances of getting frequent hospitalizations and bad disease outcome. The use of research findings in the article demonstrates its validity and reliability in providing information about the subject of health literacy.

As stated in the article, economically, low health literacy impacts negatively on the society with increased inefficiencies within the health care system. These inefficiencies lead to increased costs of health care costs to the national budget. Therefore, these impacts of low health literacy call for measures of improving health communication to reduce the costs and increase the quality of care in healthcare institutions. There is the need for strengthening health literacy to build individual and community resilience in the society. Such measures will address the emanating health inequalities and improve health as well as the well-being of many vulnerable populations (Kickbusch et al., 2013).

The Responsibility of Consumer Health Librarian

In health literacy, the consumer health librarian has been identified to play various roles in ensuring that health information reaches the people or patients more efficiently and understandably. Based on the findings, the consumer health librarian must provide easy to read materials to the broader community. It means that implementing consumer health initiatives can play a big part in improving health literacy in communities. Therefore, promoting health literacy awareness among healthcare professionals is a task that the consumer health librarian must pursue their responsibility. I think that these are important aspects that enable different organizations and health professionals to come together to understand the need for health literacy in patients.


Baker, D., Wolf, M., Feinglass, J., Thompson, J., Gazmararian, J., & Huang J. (2007). Health literacy and mortality among elderly persons. Archives Internal Medicine, 167(14):1503-9.

Bennett, I., Chen, J., Soroui, J., & White, S. (2009). The Contribution of Health Literacy to Disparities in Self-Rated Health Status and Preventive Health Behaviors in Older Adults. Annals of Family Medicine, 7(3), 204-211.

Kickbusch, I. Pelikan, J., Apfel, F., & Tsouros, A. (2013). Health literacy. Solid Facts. World Health Organization (WHO).National Network of Libraries Medicine. (n.d). Health literacy. Retrieved from

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