Background: Low health literacy compromises patient safety, quality health care, and desired health outcomes. Specifically, low health literacy is associated with decreased knowledge of one's medical condition, poor medication recall, nonadherence to treatment plans, poor self-care behaviors, compromised physical and mental health, greater risk of hospitalization, and increased mortality. Methods: The health literacy literature was reviewed for: definitions, scope, risk factors, assessment, impact on health outcomes (cardiovascular disease and heart failure), and interventions. Implications for future research and for clinical practice to address health literacy in heart failure patients were summarized. Results: General health literacy principles should be applied to patients with heart failure, similar to others with chronic conditions. Clinicians treating patients with heart failure should address health literacy using five steps: recognize the consequences of low health literacy, screen patients at risk, document literacy levels and learning preferences, and integrate effective strategies to enhance patients' understanding into practice. Conclusion: Although the literature specifically addressing low health literacy in patients with heart failure is limited, it is consistent with the larger body of health literacy evidence. Timely recognition of low health literacy combined with tailored interventions should be integrated into clinical practice.
- health literacy
- Heart failure
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine