Tips for Improving Health Knowledge

What is health literacy, and why is it important?

Health literacy is your ability to find, understand, and use health information to make good choices about your health and well-being. It is important because it empowers you to take charge of your health and navigate the healthcare system more effectively.

Over one-third of U.S. adults have low health literacy. Low health literacy leads to poorer health outcomes, increased healthcare costs, increased hospital visits, and longer length of hospital stays.

Tips for doctor or hospital visits:

  • Ask questions: Don’t be afraid to ask questions if something is unclear. Write down your questions before your visit. Ask for more explanation if needed.
  • Record your doctor’s visits or bring a friend: You can bring a friend to your appointments, and one or both of you can take notes or record the visit to review later.
  • Request an interpreter or patient advocate: Ask for an interpreter in advance (if possible). Some clinics and hospitals have patient advocates that you can request to further assist you.
  • Request take-home information: Plain language information is required by law. Ask for additional take-home information.
  • Be truthful about your health history: Know and keep a good record of your health history, vaccinations, and medications. Giving accurate information to your healthcare team helps them properly treat you.

Seek additional information:

  • Misinformation is harmful: Just because something is on the internet, or a relative or friend has an opinion about a health topic, doesn’t mean it is true.
  • Seek reliable information: Look for health information online but choose reliable sources like government (.gov) or educational (.edu) websites.

Other tips to increase health knowledge:

Reliable resources:

Infographic:

PDF Poster of the Infographic: