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Keystone Scholars and the PA Library Association

The PAForward™ Program of the Pennsylvania Library Association through its ongoing partnership with the Pennsylvania Treasury Department’s Keystone Scholars program […]

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Pennsylvania Library Association

Pennsylvania Library Association 2021 Conference & Expo – Welcome, Neighbor! The Pennsylvania Library Association (PaLA) is the oldest professional library […]

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Covid Resource Library

We invite you to download and share the following COVID-19 communication materials.  Scroll down for a collection of our latest […]

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Health Literacy

How is health literacy defined?

Having the ability to make informed decisions in relation to an individual’s physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual health; Also applies to caregivers understanding the health information of a loved one.

Basic health literacy is fundamental to the success of interaction between health care professionals and patients - every prescription, every treatment and every recovery.

Basic health literacy is fundamental to the success of interaction between health care professionals and patients - every prescription, every treatment and every recovery.

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Individuals with limited health literacy experience a variety of negative outcomes. They know less about their health problems, are more likely to make errors taking medicine, use more inpatient and emergency department care, receive fewer preventative services, and have worse health status and higher health care costs.

Research shows that individuals with low health literacy were significantly more likely than individuals with adequate health literacy to delay or forego needed care or to report difficulty finding a provider.

Patients with inadequate health literacy are diagnosed with cancer at a later stage.

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Proprietary ranking methods and the use of sponsored results of popular search engines can lead to misleading information on health topics such as nutrition and exercise.

80% of Internet users look for health information online.

80% of Internet users look for health information online.

By the Numbers

  • Only 12% of U.S. adults have the health literacy skills needed to manage the demands of our complex health system, and even these individuals' ability to absorb and use health information can be affected by stress or illness.
  • In addition to the effects of low health literacy on the individual patient, there are also economic consequences. Your average mid-sized community hospital that sees 5,000 patients per year spends an additional $1.8 million dollars covering the costs associated with health literacy.
  • Populations most likely to suffer from low health literacy include those aged 65 and over, minorities, immigrant populations, and Medicare/Medicaid recipients.