Patient self-management: Health-literacy skills required (2007)

Lessons in Learning – June 19, 2007

Patients who actively participate in managing their own chronic illnesses can benefit from improved health while, at the same time, decreasing their reliance on the health-care system, according to the authors of this paper. But patient self-management requires solid health-literacy skills, which many Canadians lack.

In order to manage chronic or long-term conditions, individuals have to be able to understand and assess health information; plan and make changes to their lifestyles; make informed decisions; and understand how to access care when they need it. However, according to the Adult Literacy and Life Skills Survey, more than half of working-age Canadians do not have adequate levels of health literacy and only one in eight adults over age 65 has adequate health-literacy skills.

While low levels of health literacy present a formidable challenge to patient self-management, there is evidence that such barriers can be overcome, the authors say. Fostering better conditions for successful self-management must begin with health-care providers. Their education must include training on how to address effectively the needs of low health-literacy patients.

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APA citation
Canadian Council on Learning (CCL). Patient self-management: Health-literacy skills required 2007. Web. 4 Dec. 2022 <>
Canadian Council on Learning (CCL) (2007). Patient self-management: Health-literacy skills required. Retrieved December 4, 2022, from
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