Essay about Health Literacy in New Zealand

Essay about Health Literacy in New Zealand

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Health education is a vital role within nursing, as it can assist individuals, their families and whanau to make informed choices to maintain and improve their health (Crisp & Taylor, 2009). Within New Zealand, poor health literacy rates are of concern. Statistics show 56.2% of New Zealand adults scored beneath the minimum requirement to meet the daily demands of life and work (Ministry of Health, 2010). The purpose of this assignment is to discuss health literacy, as well as to provide strategies that can be applied to improve high literacy rates within New Zealand. A reflection on how learning about health literacy will contribute to future nursing practice will conclude the assignment.


Health literacy is 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” (Ministry of Health, 2010, p. iii).

Furthermore, this definition emphasizes that health literacy is more than just being able to read instructions; it acknowledges whether a client is able to listen to and analyse health information. This includes the capacity to read prescription directives, comprehend health education brochures, understand health professional’s instructions and accurately complete consent forms in order to make appropriate health decisions (Health Navigator NZ, 2013).

Results from the 2006 Adult Literacy & Life Skills Survey found approximately 1.6 million New Zealand adults have low health literacy skills (Workbase, n.d). Furthermore, Maori between the ages of 16 and 65 have the poorest health literacy in comparison to non-Maori across all of the measured variables (Ministry of Health, 2010).

Reduced health literacy,...


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...ILE/korero-marama.pdf

Ministry of Health. 2012. Rauemi Atawhai: A guide to developing health education resources in New Zealand. Wellington, New Zealand: Ministry of Health. Retrieved from http://www.health.govt.nz/system/files/documents/publications/rauemiatawhai4web.pdf

New Zealand Nurses Organisation and College of Nurses Aotearoa (NZ) Inc. (2011). Call for Action: Health Literacy Policy and Practice for Nurses. Wellington, New Zealand: New Zealand Nurses Organisation. Retrieved from http://nurse.org.nz/guidelines.html

New Zealand Nurses Organisation and College of Nurses Aotearoa (NZ) Inc (2012). Position Statement. Health Literacy. Wellington, New Zealand: New Zealand Nurses Organisation. Retrieved from: http://www.nzno.org.nz/LinkClick.aspx?fileticket=GPbcXpviZxM%3D

Workbase. (n.d). What is Health Literacy. Retrieved from: http://www.healthliteracy.org.nz

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