The Low Literate Consumer in the Pharmacy

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Virginia Tech

The best public policy arises out of a need to provide protection to those who cannot protect themselves in the marketplace. This paper suggests that consumers with limited literacy skills are routinely overlooked within the healthcare arena and may be in need of consumer protection policies. Low literacy is generally perceived to be a stigma, and consumers may actively work to hide this fact. Moreover, given they lack literacy skills, low literate consumers employ other coping strategies to get their needs met. Based on the analysis of secondary data, in-depth interviews with adults from literacy educational centers, and observations in pharmacies, I explore the viability of the coping strategies that low literate consumers use when buying and consuming prescription and non-prescription drugs. The results suggest that while some of the strategies are successful, other strategies may lead to harmful consequences.

Low Literacy, Pharmacy, Healthcare Literacy