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Health Literacy

Health literacy is about people having the knowledge, skills, understanding and confidence to use health information, to be active partners in their care, and to navigate health and social care systems. Health literacy is being increasingly recognised as a significant health concern around the world.

Closing the gap between the demands of modern healthcare and people's abilities will help to reduce health inequalities and strengthen the wellbeing of both individuals and communities.

Misunderstanding of medicines by people taking them creates a serious risk to their health, we should all be able to access medical services without shame. Our aim should be to make Scotland a health literate society.

Having produced a health literacy scoping study in 2009, the Scottish Government published Making it Easy - A Health Literacy Action Plan for Scotland in 2014. A second plan, Making it Easier, followed in 2017.

These are available here:

Making it Easy contains four key actions, focussed on promoting awareness of hidden health literacy needs, testing a series of health literacy improvements and innovations, capturing existing resources and making them available to promote spread and scale, and a demonstrator programme that will develop and display an integrated way of working with people, making successful communication at transitions of care a routine experience.

Making it Easier contains four further actions areas:

  • Share the learning from Making it Easy
  • Embed ways to improve health literacy in policy and practice
  • Develop more health literacy responsive organisations and communities
  • Design supports and services to better meet people's health literacy levels