Literacy Connects Us to Health

September is Literacy Month and this year the theme is literacy connects us! Having strong health literacy keeps us in tune and connected to our bodies, daily lives and long-term health. Meaningful health learning begins in childhood and we build upon our knowledge and experiences throughout our lives. A 2006 study showed that more than half (55%) of working age Canadians did not have adequate health literacy. Seniors are more negatively affected. Only one in eight (12%) were found to have adequate health literacy skills.

The Canadian Public Health Association defines health literacy as, “the ability to access, understand, evaluate and communicate information as a way to promote, maintain and improve health in a variety of settings across the life-course.”

In fact, there are more adults with low health literacy (60%) than there are with low levels of prose literacy (48%). This suggests that good health literacy involves adequate prose literacy, numeracy and document literacy. Health literacy is essential to empowering the individual to have a sense of control over their own health. Health literacy can include understanding a nutritional label, a diagnosis and healthcare plan, or how to take a prescription medication. Watch the video below by Dr. Lisa Fitzpatrick about the importance of health literacy, especially in the misinformation age.


Help your learners improve their health literacy skills with the following selection of resources.

Resources with an * are available to check out from the Decoda Literacy Library. Explore our catalogue to find even more health literacy resources.

Learn more by reading our blog post Health Literacy Matters – More Than Ever!

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