Messages on medicine labels are too complicated

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Health information is too complicated, experts have said.

Complicated messages on health screening posters, labels on medicines and letters from GPs mean that more than two-fifths of adults are unable to properly take in the information, a study suggests.

Researchers at London South Bank University said 43% of people aged between 16 and 65 are unable to effectively understand and use everyday health information.

They said the figure rises to 61% when the information also requires maths skills.

Previous research has indicated that people with low “health literacy” levels have poorer health.

The new study adds weight to the argument, with researchers claiming that two-thirds of people who said they were in poor health had low health literacy skills.

Gill Rowlands, professor of health disparities at London South Bank University, who led the research team, said: “Health literacy skills are needed to understand and use information in ways that promote and safeguard good health.

“We know from research in the United States and other countries that poor skills levels such as these have a huge impact and can lead to poor health.

“This is a preventable problem, which puts an increasing pressure on an already-stretched health service.

“Our priority now is to look at addressing the challenges uncovered in the research and to develop solutions to ensure health information is more easily understood.”

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