At Community Access Network, we believe health involves more than just the body. We aim to be more than just a clinic, and our providers strive to be more than just doctors. From the moment a patient walks through our doors, we view them as a valuable member of the community. Rather than simply performing intakes and treating symptoms, our staff walk alongside our patients and friends to educate and advise. Each patient’s wellness journey is unique, and health literacy is at the center of it all. We believe wholeheartedly in promoting health literacy, and we’re here to act as guides no matter where our patients come from and what they do or don’t know.
What Is Health Literacy?
Let’s start at the beginning–what is health literacy? The federal government’s Healthy People 2030 initiative has recently provided an official definition for health literacy, dividing it into two categories.
- Personal health literacy is the degree to which individuals have the ability to find, understand, and use information and services to inform health-related decisions and actions for themselves and others.
- Organizational health literacy is the degree to which organizations equitably enable individuals to find, understand, and use information and services to inform health-related decisions and actions for themselves and others.
Health literacy initiatives focus on helping people access, understand, and apply health information. The more they know, the healthier they are likely to become. We’re proud to be a part of this movement, and we work hard every day to ensure our patients and friends have a place to come with their questions and goals.
Why Is Health Literacy Important?
Learning more about health is the first step to developing a deep understanding, and even appreciation, for your unique body. Being literate about personal health can have a major impact on how you live day-to-day, influencing your decisions and beliefs. It can help you understand yourself better and empower you to make body-positive wellness decisions. No matter your background or current lifestyle, being educated about your health is the first step along a positive wellness journey.
As you walk your individual wellness journey, here are some important things for you to remember about health literacy:
- It’s okay (and important) to ask questions and confirm understanding of health topics, especially when there is a significant amount of knowledge to remember about it.
- It is your right to learn more about your body, and healthcare providers should always be supportive of you asking questions.
- It is increasingly difficult to separate evidence-based information, especially online, from misleading and false information. So it’s also important to know where to go to get accurate, helpful information.
Tips for Becoming Health Literate
Everyone, no matter how educated, is at risk for misunderstanding health information if the topic is emotionally charged or complex. This is especially true for medical information. If you want to learn more about a particular topic, keep these tips in mind:
Ask a trusted healthcare provider
Find a primary care physician who you can trust and/or who has a good reputation. They will do everything in their power to educate you with correct, research-based information. Then, ask for help with applying this knowledge. We would love to assist you in this way. Our providers will never judge or shame you for asking questions about your body, or about health in general!
Do your research, and fact-check it
Read up on whatever health topics you’re interested in and compare sources for accuracy’s sake. On the internet, information that comes from websites with .org, .edu, and .gov endings will generally be more reliable and factual than websites that end in .com. Some of our favorite sources to reference include Harvard Health, Cleveland Clinic, Mayo Clinic, and the Center for Disease Control website.
Be willing to relearn information
Recognize it’s possible that not everything you know about health is true. You may have some relearning to do, and that’s ok. It’s better to re-educate yourself than to continue believing something about your health that’s inaccurate.
We’re Here to Help!
At Community Access Network, we acknowledge every day that everyone’s health journey is unique. It’s our job to recognize our part in teaching people about their personal wellness. It’s a job we take seriously, because we want to help everyone we encounter live the healthiest life possible. If you have any questions about your personal wellness, contact us today to schedule an appointment!