Health literacy is the ability to find, understand, evaluate, and apply health information to make health decisions. Health literacy is a bundle of cognitive skills but also of knowledge about health, disease and prevention as well as the motivation to deal with health-related topics. Due to the digitalisation of the health sector, more and more skills are required to deal with digital health information, apps, digital medical records and similar technologies. This field is described by the term digital health literacy.
People with low health literacy have difficulties in navigating the health system and understanding relevant information. This can have a negative impact on health, eating habits and illness behavior. Lower health literacy is also linked to higher absenteeism among workers, higher use of doctor and hospital visits. Lower health literacy can make communication with patients more difficult in everyday clinical practice which costs doctors and health workers time in dealing with their patients.
According to studies, health literacy is still relatively low across Europe. Efforts are therefore needed in the future to promote health literacy and make health information more comprehensible.