Health and wellbeing

Health literacy is the ability and motivation of a person to understand, access and use health information to make decisions about their health.

The people who often have the least access to information and fewer skills to understand and use the information are often the most vulnerable in society. These inequalities can lead to poorer health outcomes, both mentally and physically.

The WHO identifies health literacy as key to improving the public’s health decision-making in the prevention and management of NCDs.

Low health literacy is associated with poor health outcomes, worse lifestyle choices, risk factors for NCDs, and lower engagement with prevention activities. Those with poorer health literacy receive less cost-effective health services, with an estimated £3.75- £6.25bn per year (3-5%) of health spending associated with low health literacy in England.