The burden of health literacy generally falls on consumers, but it also falls on the health sector – health professionals, service providers and health organizations to reduce the complexity of the health system. The ABCs of Health Literacy is the theme of the National Drug Symposium (NMS) 2022 taking place today.
Health literacy is how people understand information about health and health care, and how they act on it. The all-virtual event hosted by NPS MedicineWise explains what health literacy is, why it matters, and what can be done to improve it, especially where the need is greatest.
Professor of Public Health at the University of Sydney, Professor Don Nutbeam explains why health literacy is so important and why poor health literacy is more prevalent than we realize.
Almost half (49%) of people have difficulty finding information on a medicine bottle about the maximum number of days a medicine can be taken. About 80% of people do not understand home care instructions after leaving the emergency department. Half of all medicines are prescribed, dispensed or sold inappropriately, and half of people take them incorrectly.
According to Professor Nutbeam, to improve this, we need to both increase consumer skills and confidence, while simplifying information.
Health literacy is such an important and broad issue, not only for our personal health and that of those around us, but also for a sustainable health system. We know that low health literacy leads to poorer health outcomes. When thinking about how to approach this issue, we need to consider the environment in which people access health care and how to set it up in a way that supports health literacy. »
Katherine Burchfield, CEO, NPS MedicineWise
“The National Medicines Symposium brings together important organizations, individuals, and decision-makers in the health sector to discuss and debate key questions regarding health literacy.”
“Enlightening talks and posters focus on real-world examples around the three NMS themes of organizational health literacy, medication literacy, and supporting vulnerable communities.”
“We also present a toolkit to help put health literacy into practice, with tools related to each of these themes,” she says.
Supporting health literacy by improving communication is the focus of a workshop with Dr Julie Ayre from the Sydney Health Literacy Lab at the University of Sydney. She explains how the SHeLL editor, developed by the Sydney Health Literacy Lab, can be applied to create easy-to-understand health documents.
The Online Event – the third time the National Drug Symposium has been held as a virtual event, supporting online discussion among delegates. The conversation will also continue on social media with the hashtag #NMS2022.