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Aust Fam Physician. 2009 Mar;38(3):144-7.

Health literacy--a new concept for general practice?

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Discipline of Medicine, The Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Woodville, South Australia.



Health literacy is the ability to understand and interpret the meaning of health information in written, spoken or digital form and how this motivates people to embrace or disregard actions relating to health.


This article aims to describe the concept of health literacy, its importance and its applications in the general practice setting.


Australia trails behind other western countries in practical applications of health literacy. Health literacy underpins the efficiency of consultations, health promotion efforts, and self management programs. Recognition of the health literacy status of individuals allows use of appropriate communication tools. This can save time and effort and improve patient satisfaction and health outcomes.

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