Improving Health Literacy and Health Care for Hispanic-Americans
At its simplest definition, health literacy is characterized as the basic reading and numerical skills necessary for a person to function in a health care environment. Unfortunately, approximately 77,000,000 adults in the United States of America have basic or below basic health literacy skills. Inadequate health literacy seems to be the single biggest cause of poor health outcomes, primarily by inhibiting self-advocacy on the part of the patient. Awareness of health literacy is an important issue that is necessary for proficient navigation through the health care sphere by both the patient and the provider. In a nation that is comprised of all races, ethnicities, and cultures, over 24,000,000 residents speak English less than very well. The largest minority in America is the Hispanic population, currently representing 16% of the U.S. population (more than 50,000,000 people). Of this group, 16,000,000 have limited English proficiency. By 2050, it is estimated that 30% of individuals living in the U.S. will be of Hispanic origin. This thesis explores the broad topic and importance of health literacy, describes the major challenges faced by Hispanic-Americans in the health care setting, and identifies ways of improving health care for Hispanic patients.