Single Mothers and Why Health Literacy Is Important

Topics: Health care, Health care provider, Healthcare Pages: 7 (2242 words) Published: September 9, 2012
Many reasons exist that affect the health decisions that individuals make. Some people are driven by personal factors such as beliefs, values, or life experiences while external issues influence others. Income levels, social background, educational system, culture, and health system are some of the external factors that influence health promotion. Literacy is categorized as a special factor because it is the source of information needed to make such health decisions. When people have access to the right information, they are able to seek better health options. Without literacy, this information is obsolete because they cannot understand or appraise it for suitable health decisions. This culminates into poor health outcomes and high mortality rates. It is easy to highlight that health literacy plays a vital role in the health outcomes after working as a child health worker in an urban low socioeconomic region. Child health is affected because their mothers are single parents with meager incomes and their literacy levels are low. They tend to misinterpret the health information leading to poor health decisions for their children. This paper evaluates the significance of health literacy in promoting health issues in the society.

In order for treatment to be effective, individuals must possess the ability to understand and decipher healthcare information. This will enable them to make important decisions concerning their mode of treatment and follow the instructions keenly. It is the duty of the health care providers to ensure that their clients understand the information availed about their health. Research has shown that 50% of all patients suffer from health illiteracy and this has been the leading cause of medical error and ineffective treatment (DeWalt et al., 2004). Health disparities have also occurred because of regional disparities in education since the patients have little or no knowledge of basic health matters (Nutbeam, 2000). Health literacy may be divided into functional, conceptual, and empowerment aspects. Functional health literacy may be termed as the ability of an individual to read health materials such as consent forms, medical instructions, and medicine labels. This will allow him or her to adhere to self-care after being discharged from the hospital. Conceptual literacy involves the ability to evaluate health information and use the knowledge to reduce the health risks or lead quality lifestyles. In terms of empowerment, health literacy means that the individuals in the society are sensitized to understand basic health promotion strategies. The health care system is designed in a way that empowers patients to understand their rights, duties, and roles as health care service consumers.

Health literacy is important in planning health care promotion activities because it affects the outcome. In most populations, many people are affected because of illiteracy. Governments may invest in health care provisions but the endeavors may fail because patients are health illiterate (Paasche-Orlow et al., 2005). Research has shown that there exists correlation between literacy and mortality rates. Mortality rates are higher in populations that exhibit inadequate health literacy. Such patients are unable to follow up their treatment or take the right doses of medicine because they do not understand the content of the health information. Some segments of the general population are affected more than others causing serious disparities. In most developing countries, women have higher illiteracy rates than men yet they are expected to take care of their children. This creates many health problems for the children because of poor health outcomes contributed by their mothers’ illiteracy (Kickbusch, 2001). The situation is worse in circumstances where the women are single parents and live in poverty. They are usually unable to manage their own health because of their poor finances and their children suffer the same...
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