This week we are going to talk about is health literacy and the role of the individual responsibility for health versus the role of society.
In a forum on LinkedIn, the article from Reuter's "Low Health Literacy May mean worse Health" started a debate on the individual versus society's responsibility for poor health.
One member said
" While we have unprecedented free info at our fingertips, we eat & drink to excess, under-exercise, and do not take care of ourselves.... It is less about understanding, and more about attention span. If the expectation is that you can solve everything fast (just see the marketing campaigns), then why try to understand? No, the problem is not about understanding. If it were, then people would not smoke."
...Later the member continued
"MDs are not paid to educate. And the financial model by the govt encourages quantity of patients. Not disease management. Until the patient takes some responsibilty then the ER is the costly dumping ground where so many go. Patients need to assume responsibility rather than assume an MD who gets $30 reimbursement for an office visit may not spend an hour with them. If people only spent time on medical info as much as they watched Dancing and Housewives shows..
Does this member have a point?
To counter the debate another member wrote:
"Society likes to individualize responsibility for health, wealth, etc., we really are part of a culture and system that supports our choices and behaviors, and behavior change on a completely individual level usually doesn't happen."
A third member stated
The age old question: how come information does not translate to behaviour change? Are there factors (inherent to individuals) that might need to be addressed first before people can see the need to change behaviour?
Does the health literacy movement require too much from the individual? Is health about the neighborhood you live in? or how you "grew up"? Is health more about the social and cultural system?