Health Literacy

About health literacy...

What is health literacy?

Health literacy is about people being able to understand health information. It’s about us making it easier for them to do this. It’s talking to patients using everyday words. It’s writing to them in a way that’s clear. This helps our patients and service users make informed choices about their health.

Why is it important?
It is important that health information is written in a way that can be understood so that people can make informed choices about their health. The average reading age of adults in the UK is 9-11 years old. Half of adults find it hard to understand health information. So they struggle to use it to help their health and wellbeing. This creates health inequalities.

People with low health literacy:

  • are more likely to die younger
  • are more likely to have long-term conditions
  • miss appointments more often
  • find it hard to take medication correctly
  • feel worried and angry
  • struggle to look after their own health effectively
What can we do about it?

We can all share clearer health information. We can all speak and write in ways that make it easier for our patients and service users to understand.

We can write in a clear way, at the average UK reading age. We can use as little medical jargon as possible. We can talk about health using everyday words.

We can check with patients and service users if we’ve explained clearly before they go home. The regional health literacy team is here to help with this.

Health Literacy Training

The regional health literacy team are busy developing a programme of training. They are creating different levels of training that will help you to understand health literacy and how to use it in your work.

The following training will be available:

  • Awareness level training
  • Skills level training
  • Master level training

If you are interested in health literacy training for your team, please email the regional health literacy team at: [email protected]

In the meantime, the courses below may be helpful for you. Click on the links to access the training:

Find out more about health literacy on the North East and North Cumbria Integrated Care Board (ICB) website:

If you are interested in accessing health literacy support,
or require any further information,
please contact the regional team via email:
[email protected]


Pemberton House, Colima Avenue Sunderland Enterprise Park Sunderland, SR5 3XB

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