Lack Of Health Education

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Lack of Health Education


Clearly, one of the most pressing areas of future research needed is the development of a comprehensive measure of health literacy. That work can lead to the development of short and easy-to-use measures that reflect the emerging consensus in definitions of health education and health education curricula. Efforts to create valid and reliable national data sets as well as to evaluate the effectiveness of the growing number of health education interventions remain hampered by the lack of an acceptable measure of health education that is useful across multiple contexts and audiences. The U.S. Office of the Surgeon General recently convened a workshop on health literacy, the World Health Organization recently convened an international meeting on health literacy, and there is a growing interest among researchers and practitioners in both clinical and public health contexts around the world(Nutbeam, pp 259). However, the field remains disjointed due to a lack of consensus on definition. This paper will be discussing that lack of health education is a determinant in self medication in developing countries and ultimately a contributor of the burden of infectious diseases.


The lack of a comprehensive and widely shared definition and measure of health education lead many efforts to mistakenly assume that health education is simply the understanding of health information. That is an incorrect oversimplification. Health education is the skills and abilities that are required to find, understand, evaluate, communicate, and use that understanding—not simply the understanding itself. Efforts that move forward based on that misunderstanding of health education will inherently fail to provide people with the skills and abilities they need to live healthier lives. More unfortunate, that approach continues a top-down bias that blames people for not understanding what health care professionals may well be poorly communicating about health.

While there are signs that a consensus on a comprehensive approach to health education is possible, there is a continuing need for an organized and global effort to create the path toward that consensus. Health education necessarily requires that practitioners involve their audience(s) early and often. The ultimate goal is to empower people to take better care of their health, prevent disease, and create more efficient and equitable health care systems. That level of empowerment and engagement will not be the result of what some have called an “appropriate decision” as an outcome of health education skills. The primary goal of health education is more accurately described as an informed decision (Maag, pp 45).The goal of an informed, versus appropriate, decision is based on the evidence not only common to health literacy, but also common across the continuum of science and technology studies and public communication of science:

People cannot be forced to make the “right” decisions as defined by a health care or scientific system.

Science will always change—what is “right” today for one person or situation may not be equally true in all cases today or tomorrow.

Evidence about health and science produced by the research system may indeed be global, but the use of that evidence is ...
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