Individual knowledge and skills, along with past experiences and other demographic, cultural, and environmental factors, affect the way in which the public understands and uses health information.
Think about the skills and knowledge required for the following tasks:
Understanding a newspaper article about a recent Salmonella outbreak (basic reading and comprehension).
Calculating the amount of calories in 1.5 servings of macaroni and cheese, based on a nutrition label (basic math).
Knowing that sodium is another word for salt and choosing a product with less sodium over one with more sodium (knowledge of nutrition, jargon, and table format).
Determining that “severe” is a more serious threat than “elevated,” and deciding to take appropriate actions (knowledge and understanding risk).
We must take these individual factors into consideration when we plan and deliver health messages and services.