By Robert L. Herron, MA, CSCS*D, ACSM-CEP |
October is Health Literacy Month – a time when health organizations, literacy programs, libraries, social service agencies, businesses, professional associations, government agencies and other groups can work together to integrate and expand the mission of health literacy – to build a world where all individuals have access to quality health outcomes.
Health literacy is generally defined as the ability to obtain, process, and understand health-related information in order to make informed health decisions. It is reported that almost 9 of 10 adults struggle to understand and use public health information. While there is no one-solution-fits-all method to help improve health literacy for everyone, many best practices included improving communication to impact the target population and providing access to educational opportunities in traditional (i.e., education programs) and nontraditional settings (e.g., community settings, media, and more interactions with healthcare professionals).
The widespread misinformation related to the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted many problems that our society faces, but health literacy issues preceded the pandemic and will still be a concern long after. Of note, navigating the healthcare system – at every point – is difficult. Having the resources (e.g., financial or time) to seek and received medical career is extremely difficult. Managing chronic conditions and participating in preventative care can be impossible for those with low health literacy and lack of additional resources. Therefore, it is critical that professionals and community members work toward making health literacy a priority within their sphere of influence, helping empower others to make informed decisions for their health and take action when necessary.
If you are in a position to help address health literacy, I encourage you to check out a few of the links and resources below which may help support you in your specific role.
Robert L. Herron is Acting Director of Sport Exercise Science at the United States Sports Academy. Robert is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist® with distinction from the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA-CSCS*D®) and a Clinical Exercise Physiologist through the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM-CEP®). firstname.lastname@example.org