Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service celebrates Health Literacy Month in October
By Chandani Kothari, County Extension Agent – Family & Community Health, Denton County
Oct 2, 2022
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Health literacy is having the ability to find, understand, and use basic health information to make good decisions about your health and issues that you might be facing.

Erica Reyes
“We know that making good decisions about our health requires accurate and correct information. But for some, that can be hard to find and use without increasing their level of health literacy,” said Erica Reyes, Program Specialist with Texas A&M AgriLife Extension.

“For example, it could be challenging to find a healthcare provider, have a meaningful discussion about your care, and follow a self-care plan without having a good understanding of basic health, or a good level of health literacy,” Reyes adds.

There is a lot of misinformation about health that gets shared on websites and social media.  When looking for accurate health information, a good place to start are websites that end in “.edu” or “.gov”.  These endings mean that the website belongs to a university or a government health agency. 

In addition, groups such as the American Heart Association, American Cancer Society, and Center for Disease Control are good places to find health information that is accurate and easy to understand.
The barrier is not always a lack of education. It may be that the patient has difficulty hearing or remembering parts of a conversation with their healthcare provider. Taking someone along to appointments to take notes or ask questions may be helpful.

Texas A&M AgriLife Extension in Denton County offers health talk express and a health literacy series to provide support and empower participants with science-based health information to increase their level of health literacy.

It is advised that health care providers and health educators assist by identifying each person’s level of health literacy, and remember to not use medical terms that are difficult to understand. It is important to use language tailored to each individual, and supplement education with take-home materials that are accessible to everyone in the community.