Heath literacy and wellness: What’s the connection?
Health literacy, a term that has been bandied around since the early noughties1, has begun to gain momentum. The NHS, Public Health England and tons of academic research institutes have all deemed this as a priority.
There are several definitions of health literacy, but we think that the World Health Organisation sums it up best:
‘The personal characteristics and social resources needed for individuals and communities to access, understand, appraise and use information and services to make decisions about health.’2
The hunt began for our team on the web, trying to unpick what this definition encapsulates. Simply put, health literacy is the capacity each of us has to understand health information and then uses that information to make informed decisions about our health.
Sounds pretty simple right?
Unfortunately, research from government agencies across the globe indicates that more often than not, we are unable to understand and action health information that is provided to us. 3 Misunderstandings are regrettably commonplace, and the reality is, a lack of knowledge is really bad for our health.
Up until now, the term has most frequently been used in the medical healthcare setting. Here at WellSpoken we believe there is an urgent need for better health literacy across the wellness sector.
When we founded WellSpoken we wanted to address two main challenges:
- To combat the volume of poor quality wellness information available to the public
- To upskill and equip the public to identify accurate and evidence based wellness information.
For us, working towards better health literacy is paramount to making our mission come to life.
Whether it be how much protein to consume, how many HIIT classes to attend a week or even understanding of the benefits and limitations of certain meditation practices – these seemingly routine choices need to be informed by the very best wellness information.
We believe that our WellSpoken Mark is one step towards better health literacy – by helping everyday people like you or I, to be able to recognise wellness information that has been validated as credible.
The WellSpoken Mark is awarded to brands that are committed to providing trustworthy information. Our assessment ensures that consumer content developed by brands meets a standard of excellence.
The mark is more than a seal of approval; it represents a wholehearted commitment by wellness brands and ambassadors to strive towards providing evidence-based authentic content to the public.
Addressing health literacy in the wellness sector is a tall order, especially as we know the sector is often plagued with pseudoscience or opinions presented as fact. We are willing to start that difficult conversation and lead the way to high standards in the wellness industry.
Supporting health literacy skills:
If you are interested in reading more about health literacy, I would encourage you to have a look at the following organisations for more information and have a perusal of our reference list. There is some insightful (and easy to read) research there to sink your teeth into.
- NHS England Blog: Does Health Literacy matter?
- Health Literacy Group UK: About Health Literacy
- The Health Literacy Place: Resource Centre
- Royal College of General Practitioners: Health Literacy Report
- Berkman, N. D. et al. (2010) Health Literacy: What is it? Journal of Health Communications, 15 Suppl 2:9-19 DOI: 10.1080/10810730.2010.499985 ↩
- World Health Organization. Health literacy toolkit for low- and middle-income countries. 2015. www.searo.who.int/entity/healthpromotion/documents/hl_tookit/en/ ↩
- Sheridan, S. L. et al. (2011) Interventions for Individuals with Low Health Literacy: A Systematic Review, Journal of Health Communication, 16 Suppl 3:30-54, DOI: 10.1080/10810730.2011.604391 ↩