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Health Literacy and Numeracy

  • By: Kenzie A. Cameron
  • In: Encyclopedia of Health Communication
  • Edited by: Teresa L. Thompson
  • Subject:Public Health Education & Health Promotion, Health Psychology, Health Communication

Health literacy most commonly has been defined as being the degree to which individuals have the capacity to obtain, process, and understand basic health information and services needed to make appropriate health decisions. This definition was accepted by the Institute of Medicine as well as the National Library of Medicine in the United States and is used widely.

The concept of literacy, or one's ability to read and write, is a part of health literacy and is sometimes referred to as health-related print literacy. However, health literacy covers a broader spectrum as it encompasses other skills, both cognitive and social, deemed necessary to navigate the health care system, including what has been identified as oral literacy, or one's ability to both listen and speak effectively. The ...

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