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Health Literacy Month



The Information Literacy Group’s Health Sector Rep, Pip Divall, has written a guest post about Health Literacy Month.


October is Health Literacy Month across the globe. The aim is to promote the importance of understandable health information for all, since its foundation in 1999.

Understanding health information has become essential in the past few months as we all struggle to get to grips with the meaning of terms such as fomites, shielding, and R0*. It’s been consistently shown that many people have problems reading and taking in health information, and the current pandemic has been stressful for everyone, which only adds to the problem, not least because we have been learning a new vocabulary as we go along.

NHS Health Education England Library and Knowledge Service has put together a web site of information resources on COVID-19 for the public. This includes sections aimed at children (with information on returning to school etc), and for people with long term conditions, as two examples.

If you’re producing healthcare information aimed at the public, the Patient Information Forum runs some free (and some paid for) events on producing clear health information. Looking for the PIF quality mark for health information also gives guidance on whether the information has been put together following their criteria.

For more information on Health Literacy Month and tools that you can use, see the Knowledge for Healthcare blog.


*Fomites: objects or materials which are likely to carry infection, such as clothes, utensils, and furniture.

Shielding: clinically extremely vulnerable people were advised to take extra precautions during the peak of the pandemic in England, known as shielding

R0:  mathematical term that indicates how contagious an infectious disease is. It’s also referred to as the reproduction number.

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