Skip to main navigationSkip to main content
The University of Southampton
Population Health

Health Literacy

Health literacy is the cognitive and social skills determining the motivation and ability of individuals to gain access to, understand, and use information in ways that promote and maintain good health. In the UK there has been increasing emphasis on the importance of participation of patients in their own health and health care. A low population level of health literacy has been identified as one of the important barriers to achieving this goal. This is particularly relevant in the context of the management of chronic disease

Click links on the right to see health literacy related presentations from the 2014 Population Health Conference ‘Tackling Population Health Challenges'

Health literacy and chronic disease
Plan to conduct a study to investigate the prevalence and associations of limited health literacy in a population of people with chronic heart disease in the UK and to determine the effects of low health literacy on self management of this disease.

Health literacy and arthritis
(Jo Adams, Claire Ballinger)
A systematic and qualitative review of the extent to which arthritis patient
education interventions are accessible and relevant for people with lower-literacy levels.

Health literacy research group, a cross University group involving academics from Medicine, Health Sciences and Social, Human & Mathematical Sciences and former Vice-Chancellor Professor Don Nutbeam.

Socio-economic inequities in health care access

Examples of current studies:

  1. Evaluation of  geodemographic indices and area deprivation on uptake to the National Bowel Cancer Screening Programme, which builds on previous published analysis undertaken in the south of England and will inform strategies to reduce inequities in uptake.
  2. Access to kidney transplantation Mixed methods study  to understanding the reasons why there is an inverse socio-economic gradient in access to the kidney transplant waiting-list, as part of an NIHR funded Programme grant (ATTOM study)


School students in a LifeLab session learning how to take snapshots of human health
Discovering how to scan the carotid
Tackling Population Health Challenges Conference - June 12th 2014: Some of the presentations
Pop Health Conference Presentations

Useful Downloads

Inequality, including that driven by disparities in literacy and numeracy, is known to be associated with poorer health
Health Literacy- a WUN issue

Improving the health of its population is one of the most important challenges facing any country, but also one of the hardest. Tackling these issues requires research and expertise from many disciplines, and that is the model we are adopting in Southampton

Privacy Settings