Health literacy is defined as a patient’s ability to understand basic health information so that they have the knowledge to understand their options and work with their healthcare professional to take better control of their health (www.healthliteracy.ie)
Becoming more knowledgeable about your condition can help you regain control and put you back in charge. Living with chronic pain means trying to learn how to manage your pain. This can be achieved by becoming more knowledgeable about your condition, medications, treatment options, trying to keep motivated while keeping a positive attitude towards your health. Also being a good communicator can help.
Having self-management skills is particularly important as it includes handling health information, prescriptions, navigating healthcare settings, communicating with various healthcare professionals and making informed decisions. This is of particular importance in patients with chronic pain where motivation and supports from clinicians is seen as critical to perseverance with self-management strategies. (Briggs et al 2011)
Both those working in the healthcare sector and the patient play an important part in improving health literacy.
The National Adult Learning Agency suggests that patients:
- Make a plan for their appointment i.e. list questions they want answered, list any concern
- Ask questions during appointment, ask healthcare professional to use plain English where needed
- Tell their healthcare professional about day-to-day-life and before leaving go back over what was discussed and what they are to do between appointments.
By becoming more health literate you can fully participate in the long term management of your condition.