Narrative Review

Health literacy: a safe investment in public policies

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Bárbara Cruz
Catarina Sousa
Cristina Vaz de Almeida
Health Literacy, Public Policy, Research


Health literacy has gained an active presence on political agendas. Its definition has evolved over the last decades, with several definitions emerging over time, but always based on the dimensions of the competencies that the individual and organizations develop so that the decisions of individuals can be more aware, responsible and correct, leading to better health outcomes. The definition of Ratzan and Parker is recognized globally and the construct brought by the consortium of researchers of Sørensen, et al brought to Europe a very sustained and acclaimed definition. To assess the level of health literacy, it is essential to have tools that measure various dimensions. While the Rapid Estimate of Adult Literacy in Medicine (REALM) and the Test of Functional Health Literacy in Adults (TOFHLA) were the most widely used, it is certain that none of these instruments measure the full extent of the contents. Governments and health organizations should understand the importance of measuring the level of health literacy of their populations, as they are the cornerstone for the creation of better public policies and tailored interventions in both healthcare promotion and disease prevention.

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Narrative Review


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