Health Literacy

What is Health Literacy?

Health literacy is about people having the knowledge, skills, understanding and confidence they need to be able to use healthcare information and services, so that they can be active partners in their healthcare.

Health literacy levels in England are very low with 43% of 16 to 65-year-olds having problems understanding written health information; and 61% of 16 to 65-year-olds having difficulties with health information that includes both text and numbers (Rowlands et al., 2015)

Why is Health literacy important?

People with low health literacy may be more likely to miss appointments, misunderstand instructions on prescribed medication, miss key information about their healthcare, and make uninformed decisions.

Improving health literacy levels can help enhance quality of life, improve patient outcomes and reduce costs for the NHS.


Who needs to be aware of Health Literacy?

All staff working in healthcare- having an awareness of the signs of poor health literacy, and regularly using tools that improve and check understanding are key to delivering effective healthcare.

Organisations have a responsibility to ensure that information is accessible, and that the healthcare environment doesn’t add to health literacy issues, for example, clear signage.

Training opportunities at GEH

We offer HEE and RSPH accredited Health Literacy training on a one to one or group basis. Please contact your local library for more details or take a look at our training schedule.

e-Learning for healthcare also offer a 35 minute e-learning option

Further Information

The Health Literacy Place– from NHS Education for Scotland (NES)

Recently updated Health Literacy Toolkit for the NHS (2023)


Geralt (2017) Background-bokeh-light-circles- 2709638. Available at: (Accessed: 23 September 2022).

StartupStockPhotos (2015) Student-typing-keyboard-text-849825. Available at: (Accessed: 23 September 2022).

Tigerlily (2015) Calendar-date-time-month-week-660670. Available at: (Accessed: 23 September 2022).