Updated: Mar 16, 2021
Vamos and Hayos (2010) refer to the essential components of health literacy as the ability to access, understand, appraise and communicate to promote health and prevent diseases. It is estimated that 60% of Canadian adults (ages 16 and older) and 88% of seniors (age 65 and older) do not have the skills required to obtain, understand and act on health information and services to make appropriate health decisions on their own (Mitic& Rootman, 2012). The limited health literacy skills of individuals often go undetected by health care professionals (Groene & Rudd, 2011). This is partly because of the prevalence of health literacy issues in system navigation and the changing environment of health-related settings as they continue to advance and become more complex (Rudd & Anderson, 2006). The impact of COVID 19 on health literacy and health system navigation has exacerbated health outcomes for low-income populations. The complexity of the health system, clarity of information and dialogue among consumers and health-care professionals were identified as factors associated with consumers’ health literacy (Rudd and Anderson, 2006). Health Literacy specific to low-income populations requires strong navigation and communication skills including oral exchange and print communication (Kairuz et al., 2015). Navigation, oral exchange and print communication can negatively impact individuals with low health literacy accessing health-related settings such as a local pharmacy; hospitals, COVID 19 testing sites, therefore strengths and recommendations to improve navigation, oral exchange and print communications will enhance health literacy thereby improving health outcomes in these difficult times.