The importance of understanding health

Currently, social transformations and transformations of health systems seek a more collaborative and participatory model of people, in which they have more access to information and make decisions about their health. This participation of citizens, as partners of the system and of health professionals, in decision-making in health processes is increasingly recognized.

The changes are a result of the promotion of Health Literacy (HL) or health literacy.

The concept of Health Literacy has been defined in various ways since it emerged in 1970, but in 2012 who and the European Consortium for Health Literacy defined it as:

Health literacy is linked to literacy and includes the knowledge, motivations, and skills to agree, understand, evaluate, and apply health information in order to make judgments and decisions about health care in everyday life , as well as to prevent disease, promote health and maintain or improve quality of life throughout the life cycle.

Thus, health literacy influences people's health, as well as the safety and quality of health care.

In 2016, the WHO chose the topic as the main key factor in health promotion and is cited in studies as the sixth vital sign of health.

In a context where chronic diseases and sources of health information are growing, examining how people interact with information and how health professionals explain it in a way that makes it easy for patients to understand is essential for efficiency and effectiveness. of the treatments.

Understanding health can significantly influence a patient's prognosis and quality of life. It can be said that the limit of health goes to the limit of people's understanding.

The ability to understand health involves a set of 4 main factors cited in the following figure:

Cultural and conceptual knowledge of health

Having knowledge about health allows the search for a healthy life that results in the prevention of diseases and self-esteem that is influenced by education, family, work environment, community, media.

Figure 02 cites important members of society capable of interfering in the knowledge of people's health.

Any situation in which the person engages with health information is included in the health context:

  • Listen to the guide in the consultation,
  • Buy and compare food,
  • Watch health programs on TV,
  • Find information on the Internet and judge whether it is reliable or not,
  • Choosing a health plan,
  • Choose, together with health professionals, the treatment to follow in chronic diseases, etc.

Most of them are filled with fear or stress, since their decisions affect their quality of life and in recent years, with the large number of drugs, tests and therapeutic possibilities, health care has become complex.

No one is entirely a health writer. Even in cases such as a health professional, who begins treatment for a new disease, he may not have mastered the subject and will also need care, guidance and information about the disease.

The better a person's relationship with their own health, the better their Health Literacy (HL) skills, and the less fear or stress they feel.

Know how to talk and listen about health

In the communication process, health professionals are channels between scientific studies and people who seek this knowledge.

Unfortunately, however, studies show that health professionals overestimate what patients actually understand what is presented to them. de facto do that lhes foi presented.

In light of this, the Health Literacy theme helps build truly more effective and humane health.

For this to happen naturally, one must put aside the imposition of rules, even in learning and understanding each patient so that communication is carried out effectively and pleasantly with each person.

One of the main barriers in communication is related to the difficulty of patients to speak openly with health professionals. That is why it is essential to create an environment of trust.

Knowing how to process information to make appropriate decisions about your health directly involves the interaction between professionals, patients and health institutions.

Health literacy is influenced by individual factors and who disseminates information. Some examples in figure 3:

With this, regardless of the level of cognitive skill set and social skills a person has, they will encounter barriers in their health journey. Navigating the current moment for health involves the use of many skills. The information is there, but there are difficulties in deciphering it.

Active listening is a skill, it is listening carefully and showing that you are attentive. In health care, it is important that those who speak up know that their complaints are being welcomed and taken seriously.

When we talk about verbal communication, the main problems reported are:

  • Inadequate explanation of diagnosis and treatment,
  • The patient reports that he feels ignored.
  • The professional ignores or does not understand the point of view of the patient and family members.

Below in figure 04 some points that help in verbal communication:

When talking about HL skills for healthcare professionals, there are validated techniques to increase patient understanding. The two most commented are:

  • Teach backwards: Evaluates what the person understood of what had gone without causing embarrassment, it consists of asking the person to explain in their own words what was taught.
  • Ask me 3 (3 questions for me): This technique encourages the person to ask, and the professional to answer, three basic questions:
  • What's in it with me?
  • What am I supposed to do? (regarding my problem)
  • Why is it important for me to do this?

With this, patients will undoubtedly be better informed and committed to their health problems, making better adherent treatment and quality health possible.

Taking into account what was observed, points 3 and 4 that are part of the set of skills to understand health, are also directly related to the need to develop health literacy skills and abilities throughout life in search of a healthy life. healthy.

Being able to filter, judge and appreciate health information in order to know the risks of contracting a disease and ways to treat a disease, thinking about diagnostic tests, food consumption and medication use will certainly help in the health decision making.

Specifically, the adoption of a healthy diet, actions to prevent skin, breast or prostate cancer, the development of first aid skills, knowing how to search the Internet or other media, health information brings people closer to promoting health to improve quality of life.

The importance of taking care of physical and mental health

Our health is an aspect of our lives that we must take care of not only in a pandemic context, but also in the actions that we carry out on a daily and preventive basis. Our physical and mental well-being is essential to be able to fully carry out our activities, cope with the stress of daily life, be productive in the workplace and personally, and thereby contribute positively to society.

In this sense, it is essential to prioritize our health and define actions that help keep us healthy, both mentally and physically, in order to achieve a balance that allows us to find comprehensive well-being.