It is important to be able to find, understand and use health information and services. Health literacy can help prevent health problems, protect your health, and better manage health problems before they arise.
Lovey Ratima-Rapson, Team Leader of Practice Relationship Managers at Pegasus Health, said an estimated 50% of adults in Aotearoa have low health literacy. So how do we become more health literate? The two most important things people can do is:
- Enrol with a GP and make sure they have your most up-to-date contact information It is free to enrol, and you can access publicly funded health services, including mental health and lifestyle programmes
- Ask questions Every interaction with a health professional is an opportunity to develop health literacy knowledge and skills. Do not be shy to ask about health conditions and what health terms mean, and who can provide support and advice.
Some common health terms:
- Acute: a condition that begins abruptly and is sometimes severe, but the duration is short
- Benign: not cancerous
- Biopsy: a small sample of tissue taken for testing
- Chronic: a recurring, persistent, or long-lasting condition such as asthma or diabetes • Contusion: bruise
- Enrolment (with a GP): belonging to a general practice, which is your first port of call for most health issues
- Hypertension: high blood pressure
- Intravenous: medication or fluid that is delivered by your vein
- Malignant: the presence of cancerous cells
- Outpatient: a patient who receives care without being admitted to a hospital
- Patient portal: a way patients can make appointments and check on their test results
- Primary care: professional health care received in the community, usually from a GP, practice nurse or pharmacist.