Health literacy can be defined as the capacity that an individual has to access and effectively use health-related information, in order to promote and maintain good health. While literacy can enable people to understand and communicate health information and concerns, when these are applied to a health context, it is called health literacy. A person can be literate and still have limited health literacy.
In the report Healthy People 2010 , the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services define it as “the degree to which individuals have the capacity to obtain, process and understand basic health information and services needed to make appropriate health decisions.”
Examples of actions that require health literacy skills include properly reading and adhering to a care or prevention program as well as being able to use the available healthcare services rationally and ponder individual behavioural change. Increasing health literacy rates is a means to empower patients and contribute to downgrade inequalities towards a healthier, safer, more demanding society.