Health literacy: An economic perspective

Diarmuid Coughlan*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


A presentation at a 2009 Institute of Medicine health literacy workshop provides a conceptual framework to discuss the various economic angles of health literacy. To date, much of the research has focused on the skills and abilities of individuals with little attention paid to the other side of the health literacy coin-the demands/complexities of the health care system. This chapter examines both sides of the coin and uses the English health care system as a case study to illustrate an economic perspective of health literacy. The following questions are considered: Are health-literate individuals more efficient users of health care resources? Can we produce better health through investing in health literacy? Do health literacy interventions improve one's health outcomes? How does a third-party payer view health literacy? What incentive is there for a provider to advocate health literacy principles? How should a policy maker approach health literacy? The author concludes that it is imperative that the economic data requirements for decision making are understood and embraced by health literacy advocates.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationHealth Literacy in Context
Subtitle of host publicationInternational Perspectives
PublisherNova Science Publishers Inc.
Number of pages28
ISBN (Print)9781619429215
Publication statusPublished - 2010

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