Health literacy is a key social determinant of health. Those people who are more health literate tend to have better health, better health outcomes, and are better able to manage health issues.
Motivation to Seek Health Information
The motivation to seek health information has been recognized as a critical piece to meeting the goal of increased health literacy. Different issues may motivate the seeking of health information. One person may seek health information motivated by a desire to promote good health. Another person might seek health information to learn about a specific health problem he or she is dealing with. Someone else might seek health information for a friend or family member suffering from a health issue. Someone else might seek health information out of general interest.
Other people, however, may be rarely motivated to seek health information. A lack of interest in health, to learn about health, or to seek health information for others is certainly a part of the essential “capacity” to obtain health information contributing to disparities in health literacy.
Motivation to Seek Health Information and Health Behavior Patterns. The Patterns of Adapting to Health (PATH) show that the seeking of health information in support of health is linked to deeper patterns of health-related behavior. The primary consumers of health information are dominated by adults conforming to three patterns of health behavior: Pattern 7, Pattern 8, and Pattern 9. Drastically lower levels of health information seeking are associated with adults dominated by Pattern 1 and Pattern 2.
Health Literacy and the Problem of Motivation. Higher and lower levels of health literacy are not necessarily linked to access or exposure to health information, but to the motivation to seek it. The Patterns of Adapting to Health show that the motivation to seek and evaluate health information does not exist in isolation, but is linked to deeper more complex patterns of health behavior within a population. This suggests that adequate levels of health literacy are heavily influenced by complex patterns of health behavior where health information is available.