Health Information Week is a multi-sector campaign to promote the good quality health resources that are available to the public. It aims to encourage partnership working across sectors and benefit all staff and the public by raising awareness of the resources that are available to them. Good information, well used, is a vital component of improving health, wellbeing and quality of care.
There is a real need for patients and the public to have access to high quality, reliable health information. As patients today are being encouraged to self-manage and be involved in their care, they need access to a range of resources that are high quality and tailored to their literacy level.
The World Health Organisation defines health literacy as “the personal characteristics and social resources needed for individuals and communities to access, understand, appraise and use information and services to make decisions about health”.
Recent research in England tells us that up to 43% of the English adult working-age population cannot fully understand and use health information containing only text and this rises to 61% when numerical information is included in health information.
Support from pharmacies
Information for patients and service users is an integral part of care. Like medicine, good information can heal, but poor information or poor handling of information can harm. We need to regard poor information as poor quality care and as such a potential breach of the minimum standards that the NHS Constitution is intended to safeguard. The wider quality and economic case for good information is often insufficiently appreciated. Good information and communication promote health literacy, treatment adherence, self‐management, shared decision‐making, confidence and realistic expectations
- Follow the week’s events and join the campaign via Twitter: #HIW2018. You can also follow @Healthinfoweek
- Plan your own health information display or event -
- contact other health information providers in your area (eg: Public Health, Health Promotion, public libraries, health libraries, local voluntary organisations etc.)
- arrange an introductory meeting
- see if there are plans for anything you might join in with, or initiate a joint event to share resources.
Those who have participated in Health Information Week in previous years have found it personally rewarding to assist patients and the public in accessing quality health information; library membership and usage have increased; hard to reach communities have been better provided for; safer internet searching has been promoted; digital participation has been widened; health literacy has been improved, with new partnerships formed across sectors and much more has been reported over the years.
Why not take this opportunity to support health Information week and when planning look at your resources and ensure that they are appropriate for your patients and that you think about ensuring that you reach all your patients by taking into account health inequalities such as literacy. All pharmacy teams, in particular those who work in a Healthy Living Pharmacy, are required to have a healthy living zone and provide patients with a wide range of resources so consider using opportunity to promote health information week using your shop window, healthy living zone or holding an event such as a raffle, quiz or cake sale.
You may prefer to concentrate on a specific topic or issue rather than the wide subject of health information. If this is the case, it would be advisable to cover some or all of the government’s priority public health issues:
- reduce the number of people who smoke
- reduce obesity / increase exercise
- support sensible drinking
- improve sexual health
- improve mental health and wellbeing
- tackle health inequalities
Here is a guide to some resources that you can use to support your activity or display:
The public health campaigns resource centre has a vast amount of resources to help you with a health campaign, click here to access this.
Below are some links to articles used in this blog.