Czech Public Suffering From Weak Health Literacy
Scientists estimate that up to a third of the population has no idea that they have health problems, including elevated cholesterol or high blood sugar levels. Photo credit: Freepik.
Brno, May 24 (BD) – The Czech public are lacking a detailed understanding of health, say experts from the SYRI National Institute. Scientists estimate that up to a third of the population has no idea that they have health problems, including elevated cholesterol or high blood sugar levels. The lack of knowledge also persists even when people are notified of problems by a doctor.
“The majority ignore the doctor’s advice and do not seek further treatment,” said Michala Lustigová from SYRI. “The key to change is increasing health literacy.”
It is a well-known fact that the Czech population is heavily affected by diabetes and diseases of the circulatory system. “However, health information among the public is generally incomplete. It is therefore not clear what health care and prevention should focus on,” said Lustigová. “In an apparently healthy population, ‘neglected’ risk factors will only manifest themselves in a serious deterioration of the health condition, such as a heart attack or diabetes. In old age, the population is burdened with pain and disability including, for example, restricted movement and mobility problems.”
The basis for scientists is data from the last stage of life, i.e. information about mortality. Information is available about which diseases affect the population most widely. Another part of the data, about patients and people who use medical care, is collected by the healthcare system. “The rest is a kind of grey area and it is necessary to do our own investigations to supplement the data, such as measuring blood pressure and analysing various parameters from the blood,” said Lustigová.
About a third of the population has no idea that they have health problems. “If people from risk groups are already notified about their situation by a doctor, some of them still do not receive treatment, and then there is a group that is treated, but the treatment is insufficient or does not work,” added Lustigová.
Lustigová and her team from SYRI will research the health literacy of the population in the field of prevention. Their goal is to increase the health literacy of the Czech population and influence the largest possible group of people. “If, for example, each person lost one kilogram of weight, it would have a big impact on population health,” she said.
She added that the key to success is a change in lifestyle. “It is a combination of elements, the most important of which is diet, natural movement, e.g. walking, and limiting alcohol consumption. These elements have the greatest influence on obesity.”