According to Healthy People 2010, an individual is considered to be "health literate" when he or she possesses the skills to understand information and services and use them to make appropriate decisions about health.
Areas commonly associated with health literacy include:
- Patient-physician communication
- Drug labeling Medical instructions and medical compliance
- Health information publications and other resources
- Informed consent
- Responding to medical and insurance forms
- Giving patient history
- Public health training
- Assessments for allied professional programs, such as social work and speech-language pathology
Alarmingly, these skills and strategies are absent in more than half of the U.S. population. This fact is more disturbing when one considers that these are the very skills and strategies that often lead to longer life, improved quality of life, reduction of both chronic disease and health disparities, as well as cost savings.