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Perspect Public Health. 2012 Jan;132(1):31-8.

Health literacy in Ireland: reading between the lines.

Author information

University College Cork, Cork, Ireland.

Erratum in

  • Perspect Public Health. 2012 Mar;132(2):51. Marshall, Sara [corrected to Marshall, Sarah].


Health literacy may be defined 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. While health literacy has become a vibrant area of international research, Ireland has lagged behind and to date few data exist. This article summarises the research that has been carried out in Ireland, highlighting key findings and recommendations. With several new initiatives in place such as the Crystal Clear health literacy Awards, it is expected that Ireland will lag behind in this field no longer. Inadequate health literacy is at epidemic levels in Ireland and is fast becoming recognised as a national issue. Simplification of the healthcare system, in its entirety is required but the much needed financial investment will only be made after original research, demonstrating successful interventions has been conducted. With a trend worldwide towards personalized medicine, this theme should be extended to include tailor-made personalized health care information. An investment in health literacy will ultimately increase a patient's self-esteem, compliance, capacity to self-manage and most importantly patient outcomes and safety.

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