The degree to which individuals have the capacity to obtain, process, understand and act upon health information and services needed to make appropriate health decisions.

Early health literacy focused on skills of patients and health outcomes. There is now a shift of responsibility to health professionals:

  • Ability to recognize health literacy problems
  • Communicate in ways patients can understand
  • Design system processes that address health literacy issues.

Strategies to improve communication with patients:

  • Be aware of clues for low health literacy
  • Conduct patient-centered visits
  • Explain things clearly/use plain language
  • Focus on key messages and repeat
  • Check for understanding
  • Use patient-friendly written materials to enhance interaction.


The Center for Disease Control has more information on Health Literacy located here.

To learn more about Health Literacy, click here.

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