Looking for accurate health information online? 6 tips to find it, from a doctor (2)

3 October, 2021

This piece of advice that Najeeb has shared [https://www.hifa.org/dgroups-rss/looking-accurate-health-information-onl... seems to be great advice for people searching for information and maybe could become part of core educational curricula (maybe it is!) Citizens with lower literacy as per the National American Literacy Survey (NALS) of 1993 From Health Literacy ****1 may need help and guidance for selection of information. So perhaps in a brave new future the level of health literacy required to understand the piece of information could be expected to be “written on the box” just as food companies provide information for food packaging information providers could provide literacy level notices for information. These notices could be subject to some sort of professional quality assurance in the same way that electrical goods are quality assured??

Maybe at the end of primary school we should inform pupils of their literacy levels to help them select information source suitable for their literacy? I bet hardly anyone knows their own level of literacy despite the fact that about 88% of the world experience primary carer education and any way low literacy is stigmatised and citizens do not readily wish to publicly acknowledge their lower levels of literacy . ****2

****1 A Manual for Clinicians Part of an educational program about health literacy Author: Barry D. Weiss, MD University of Arizona College of Medicine, Tucson. At the lowest level of literacy skill, termed NALS level 1, individuals can only perform basic tasks such as signing their name or finding a word or fact in a short written article. Individuals at NALS level 1 are often considered “functionally illiterate.” Although they can perform some reading and writing tasks, their limited literacy skills prevent full functioning in today’s society. Individuals in NALS level 2 have somewhat more advanced skills but are still substantially limited in their ability to read and understand text. They are considered marginally literate. In contrast, persons at NALS levels 3, 4, and 5 have sufficient literacy skills to permit full functioning in society. Those at NALS level 5, the most advanced literacy level, have well[1]developed literacy skills that enable them to perform complex tasks, such as writing lengthy documents and extracting data from tables and graphs (Table 1)

****2 School enrollment, primary (% net) | Data (worldbank.org) https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/SE.PRM.NENR

HIFA profile: Richard Fitton is a retired family doctor - GP, British Medical Association. Professional interests: Health literacy, patient partnership of trust and implementation of healthcare with professionals, family and public involvement in the prevention of modern lifestyle diseases, patients using access to professional records to overcome confidentiality barriers to care, patients as part of the policing of the use of their patient data

Email address: richardpeterfitton7 AT gmail.com