Health Check header image

Ways in which literacy may affect health

Low literacy may affect people’s health both directly and indirectly.

Direct effects

  • People may have difficulty following the doctor’s or nurse’s instructions.

  • People may make mistakes when taking their medicine or when giving it to other members of their family.

  • People may be unable to read safety or warning notices, resulting in accidents or injuries to themselves or others.

Indirect effects

  • People with low literacy skills may feel ashamed and have low selfesteem. This may lead to stress and health problems.

  • People may find it difficult to find or keep a job.

  • They may have a poorly paid job, or live on a fixed income, like Income Support. That may result in poverty.

  • People who are poorly paid or live in poverty may suffer from stress.

  • People may be unable to read information that will let them make healthy choices.

line graphic
Previous Table of Contents Next
line graphic