Low Literacy and Health Outcomes: Studies Reveal Mixed Results - Essay Sample

Paper Type: 
Pages:  3
Wordcount:  591 Words
Date:  2023-08-13


There has been a belief that the literacy level of a patient affects their health outcomes. Even though this notion is strongly held by a good number of people, studies carried out to reveal the link have produced mixed results. Several studies have been done in the United States to uncover how literacy levels affect treatment outcomes. Among such studies is the one conducted by DeWalt et al. (2004), which revealed that patients with low literacy were 1.5-3 times more likely to have undesired health outcomes. Health literacy enables people to understand the etiology of the disease, identify various clinical indicators of illnesses, as well as recognize the available prophylactic interventions for diseases, allowing them to seek medication at the right time and adhere to treatment instructions.

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According to various studies, low literacy was found to contribute to poor health outcomes in several ways. The US Department of Health and Human Services found that literacy level affects the way people respond to diseases and their likelihood to seek medical attention at the right time (Lynch & Franklin, 2019). Patients with low literacy levels were discovered to seek medical attention in late stages of disease development as compared to those with high literacy levels, which made the treatment process difficult (DeWalt et al., 2004). Moreover, patients with low literacy were discovered to be less likely to seek preventive care, thereby being highly predisposed to preventable diseases. They also failed to religiously follow the physicians' treatment instructions and used medicines ineffectively which resulted in poor treatment outcomes (DeWalt et al., 2004). As a result, the low literacy patients had a higher risk of mortality and hospitalization, and readmissions due to treatment errors. Lynch and Franklin (2019) also found that low literacy patients had poor illness-specific outcomes for particular chronic conditions.

There are various interventions that can be adopted to repress the effects of low literacy on health outcomes. Among the interventions is the implementation of optimizing health literacy information and services (Ophelia) in the health care system (Lynch & Franklin, 2019). The approach involves the collaboration of a broad range of health care providers, government officials, community leaders, and patients to develop health literacy interventions depending on the needs identified in a society or hospital. This approach is good since it customizes the need for a particular community or patient, as has been observed in Jamaica (Lynch & Franklin, 2019). The government should also develop and execute policies that elevate the documentation of health literacy issues and the execution of targeted responses (Lynch & Franklin, 2019). The targeted response, as has been observed in some parts of the US ensures that a patient is attended to based on individual needs. Lastly, I would recommend the development and execution of policies that urge impartial access to health information and services for all people. People should be educated on basic health information to enable them to understand and know when they are supposed to seek medical attention (DeWalt et al., 2004). This strategy has been seen to work in the US where people are given access to basic health information and have helped to narrow the health literacy gap.


DeWalt, D. A., Berkman, N. D., Sheridan, S., Lohr, K. N., & Pignone, M. P. (2004). Literacy and health outcomes. Journal of General Internal Medicine, 19(12), 1228-1239. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1492599/

Lynch, M. A. M., & Franklin, G. V. (2019). Health literacy: An intervention to improve health outcomes. In strategies to reduce hospital mortality in lower and middle-income countries (LMICs) and resource-limited settings. IntechOpen. https://www.intechopen.com/books/strategies-to-reduce-hospital-mortality-in-lower-and-middle-income-countries-lmics-and-resource-limited-settings/health-literacy-an-intervention-to-improve-health-outcomes

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Low Literacy and Health Outcomes: Studies Reveal Mixed Results - Essay Sample. (2023, Aug 13). Retrieved from https://proessays.net/essays/low-literacy-and-health-outcomes-studies-reveal-mixed-results-essay-sample

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