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Limited health literacy is a serious issue for patients and providers.

“Nearly 9 out of 10 US adults have difficulty using the everyday health information that is routinely available in our health care facilities, retail outlets, media and communities.”


National Action Plan to Improve Health Literacy, 2010


What is health literacy?

“The degree to which an individual has the capacity to obtain, communicate, process, and understand basic health information and services to make appropriate health decisions.”


Affordable Care Act, 2010



NPSF offers these resources to learn more about the issue of health literacy.


Ask Me 3: Good Questions for Your Good Health. Program designed to help patients become active partners in their health care team.


Words to Watch.  Provides suggestions to health care providers for the kinds of words that are most easily understood by patients.


Health Literacy Training (PDF from slide presentation). Provides detailed information about health literacy and what providers can do to help their patients understand their situation and their treatment.


Health Literacy. A Prescription to End Confusion. Report of the Committee on Health Literacy, Institute of Medicine, 2004.


Low Health Literacy: Implications for National Health Policy. Report of a study group, 2007.



What can I do?



Ask Me 3: Good Questions for Your Good Health

Every time you talk with a health care provider, ask these questions:

  • What is my main problem?

  • What do I need to do?

  • Why is it important for me to do this?

Find out more about Ask Me 3.



A provider's communication skills can directly influence a patient's comprehension. When talking with a patient, follow these guidelines:

  • Slow down

  • Limit, but repeat, information at every visit

  • Avoid medical jargon

  • Use illustrations to explain important concepts

  • Use easy-to-read written materials

  • Make visits interactive

  • Use “teach-back” to gauge comprehension

Health Literacy Month: A Great Time for Learning and Improving

Tejal Gandhi, President & CEO of the National Patient Safety Foundation


In order to advance patient safety, it is critical to optimize tools to help address health literacy challenges. >> Read more of this blog post from October 2014 (with references list).



Improving Health Literacy: One Key to Improving Health Care Safety

Tejal Gandhi, President & CEO of the National Patient Safety Foundation


October is Health Literacy Month. There's no better time to start learning more about how we can become better health communicators. >> Read more of this blog post from October 2015.



October Is Health Literacy Month


The NPSF publication Current Awareness Literature Alert for October 2015 (#2) featured seven articles about health literacy. >> View the issue.





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