Tuesday, July 23, 2019

The Concept of Health Literacy in Promoting and Maintaining Adolescent Essay

The Concept of Health Literacy in Promoting and Maintaining Adolescent Health - Essay Example Factors affecting the concept of health literacy in adolescents are discussed. Recommendations to develop and enhance adolescent health literacy are included. Keywords: health literacy, adolescent, health promotion. The Concept of Health Literacy in Promoting and Maintaining Adolescent Health A young diabetic man, aged 14, learns about a new clinical trial on a new diabetic medicine. He goes to the study site to learn more about the trial. The adolescent is asked to sign an informed consent form; he must also have this form signed by his parents. However, once his mother sees the informed consent form, she realizes that her son’s participation in the trial will put him at high risks of health complications, since his current medicines and health state are in conflict with what is required for and being tested during the trial. This is a routine situation that exposes the role of health literacy for promoting and maintaining adolescent health. Adolescents must be able to read a nd understand health information. They should be able to use this information in ways that empower them to take proper health decisions. It goes without saying, that the adolescent health literacy is affected and mediated by a multitude of internal and external factors. In this sense, the concept of health literacy in adolescents can be defined as the degree to which young people are capable of accessing, reading, processing, and comprehending health information and use this information to take proper health decisions, promote and maintain their health, based on continuous interactions with their social and cultural environments. Literacy and Health Literacy among Australians Health promotion has long been one of the primary goals of health care; yet, it was not before the 1990s that the importance of health literacy was officially recognized. In the early 1990s health literacy was included in Australia’s health targets and goals (Keleher & Hagger, 2007). These goals and targ ets include improving language skills, population literacy, and public knowledge of health and health literacy, to ensure that individuals have the information and knowledge required to take informed health decisions (Keleher & Hagger, 2007; Borzekowski & Rickert, 2001). Unfortunately, less than one-fifth of Australians have high levels of literacy, which impedes the development and implementation of health promotion policies (Keleher & Hagger, 2007). Only every third Australian possesses functional literacy to cope with their everyday tasks (Jorm et al., 2006). Thus, just about one half of all Australians have the skills and potential to affect health decisions and promote their own health. This raises the question of bringing up health literacy from a young age. Why care about health literacy among adolescents? The answer is simple: there is no health without health literacy. Limited health literacy is associated with increased utilization of health care services (Keleher & Hagger , 2007). Poor health outcomes are direct results of low health literacy (Farrer et al., 2008; Keleher & Hagger, 2007). Low health literacy predicts poor verbal communication with health care providers and poor medication compliance (Keleher & Hagger, 2007). Therefore, it is imperative that adolescents have the level of health literacy needed to promote and maintain their health. Undoubtedly, superior health literacy is one of the foundational elements of improved health in adolescents and adulthood. The long-term effects of literacy on

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