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The Importance of Health Literacy

Literacy is the strongest predictor of an individual’s health status.

A 2003 study by the National Assessment of Adult Literacy (NAAL) found that 36% of the population has limited health literacy skills (22% Basic; 14% Below Basic). Only about 12% are considered Proficient.

There is a direct link between the level of health literacy and health disparities. People with limited literacy:

  • Report poorer overall health
  • Have poorer ability to manage chronic diseases
  • Have poorer outcomes
  • Are less likely to understand their diagnosis
  • Are less likely to have screening/preventive care
  • Are more likely to be hospitalized/re-hospitalized

The benefits of improved health literacy include better health outcomes for Kansans, more efficient use of health resources, and reduced costs.

This is a critical time for Kansas to establish a strong voice for health literacy – both within our state and externally. Health Literacy Kansas is the only group in Kansas (to our knowledge) bringing together organizations working toward this goal.