Health Literacy

Health Literacy for
Non-Native English Speakers
   It is well-documented that non-native 
English speakers have lower levels of 
health literacy, which in turn puts them 
at greater risk of serious health problems. 
   This not only creates health disparities 
but can also place a financial burden on society.  
   Populations with low health literacy 
experience more hospital visits, longer 
hospital stays, and higher health care costs.

   Those with limited English proficiency 
are less likely to visit health care facilities
for treatment or preventative care. 
   They are more likely to be non-compliant 
with medications and are more frequently 
dissatisfied in their relationship with 
healthcare providers.  
   As expected, they have difficulty 
understanding information from health 
education campaigns and programs intended 
for the general public.

   While limited language proficiency is a 
major factor in poor health literacy, 
there are other variables that can 
compromise this knowledge.
    Language and communication skills can 
clearly influence health literacy, 
but so can socioeconomic status, 
cultural background and biases, 
and past experienced with health 
care providers and systems.

   Since communication, cultural norms 
and health are closely linked, providing 
a health literacy program for limited English
speakers using English as a 
Second Language (ESL) approach is an 
effective method of increasing health 
literacy while improving English proficiency,
understanding cultural differences 
and gaining self-advocacy skills.

   TEACH is currently developing a health 
literacy program that combines 
culturally-sensitive classroom experience 
with one-on-one tutoringto focus on each
student’s unique health issuesand those 
of their families.
    In addition, native English speakers would 
be available to accompany learners to health
care appointments not to translate but 
to ensure that information is communicated
in a way and at a language level appropriate
to the learner.