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Confidence: An Important Ingredient of Health Literacy

When we think about the meaning of literacy, we typically regard it as the ability to read and write. And it’s easy to apply this same definition to health literacy. However, both traditional literacy and health literacy are more than just ability.

They both require action.

So, there has to be a definition that better captures the essence of literacy, right?! One that encompasses all the skills and traits needed to be successful.

Well, here’s one that we think does the concept more justice—whether applied to a healthcare or school setting.

Literacy is the ability, confidence, and willingness to engage with language to acquire, construct, and communicate meaning in all aspects of daily living.1

What makes this definition different from the other ones for literacy (and health literacy) is the acknowledgment that literacy is far more than just ability—confidence and willingness to engage are needed to grow ability and drive action.


If you’ve ever played or watched sports, you’d know this is true. It doesn’t matter how much natural ability a player has if they don’t have the confidence or willingness. The willingness to work hard and build upon their natural abilities. And, the confidence to rely on their training in the very moment, believe they can do it, and make the move.

When self-doubt enters their mind, players hesitate. They resist the hours of training, and they mess up. The purpose of practice (or learning) is to build that confidence so that there is no second-guessing when it’s time to act. The player is ready to engage.

skiing through trees

When it comes to navigating a healthcare system, merely knowing random facts doesn’t do much good. Health consumers need to gain confidence in what they are learning.

This confidence helps them participate in conversations, learn more, and ultimately make a decision about their health.

How Leveling Health Builds Confidence

Every piece of information we create focuses on growing a patients’ confidence, willingness, and ability—boosting their health literacy.

Through engaging, relatable, and supportive storytelling, we not only provide patients the most important and useful information, but we also grow their willingness to participate in the learning process. Confidence grows as they gain more and more knowledge.

Together, this confidence and willingness transform into the ability to participate in the decision-making process.

  1. Literacy and Numeracy: What is Literacy? Alberta Education. https://education.alberta.ca/literacy-and-numeracy/literacy/everyone/what-is-literacy. Accessed January 12, 2021.

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