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Health Literacy

In Australia, 60% of people have low health literacy (Australian Bureau of Statistics). Health literacy refers to how people understand information about health and health care, and how they apply that information to their lives, use it to make decisions and act on it.

Addressing health literacy by simplifying communication and supporting patients, families and carers to understand and manage their health is a key way to improve their quality of life and reduce the impact of disease.

Organisations have a responsibility to build a health literacy environment that involves:

  • Developing and implementing health literacy policies and processes that aim to reduce the health literacy demands associated with information materials, the physical environment and local care pathways;
  • Providing and supporting access to training for clinicians in health literacy and interpersonal communication, including training in communicating risk;
  • Providing education programs for consumers to develop health knowledge and skills;
  • Reducing unnecessary complexity for consumers in using and navigating the health service.
Links for staff to district level evidence are coming soon.

Diverse communication mechanisms

Partnering with Consumers National Standard - Action 2.8 (Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care)
Action 2.8 requires health service organisations to ensure that consumers receive the information they need in a way that is appropriate for them. Learn more about diverse communication mechanisms.

Consumers are involved in patient publications

Partnering with Consumers National Standard - Action 2.9 (Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care)
Action 2.9 requires that where information for patients, carers, families and consumers about health and health services is developed internally, the organisation involves consumers in its development and review. Learn more about consumer involvement in patient publications.

Communication about health and health care

Partnering with Consumers National Standard - Action 2.10 (Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care)
Action 2.10 requires the health service organisation to support clinicians to communicate with patients, carers, families and consumers about health and health care so that:

  1. Information is provided in a way that meets the needs of patients, carers, families and consumers
  2. Information provided is easy to understand and use
  3. The clinical needs of patients are addressed while they are in the health service organisation
  4. Information needs for ongoing care are provided on discharge​

Learn more about communication about health and healthcare.