Health Literacy Basics

What is health literacy?

Health literacy is the ability to get health information, understand it and use it to improve your health. Better health communication from healthcare providers, health systems and media can improve health literacy.


Key Publications

Health Literacy: A Prescription to End Confusion 
The Institute of Medicine’s (IOM) valuable report on health literacy examines the body of literature available at the time of publication in 2004.

10 Attributes of Health Literate Health Care Organizations This discussion paper acts as a framework as to what a health literate health care organization is and what characteristics  define it as such.


More About Health Literacy

HHS Health Literacy Basics Includes fact sheet and strategies to improve usability of health information and messages.

CDC’s Health Literacy Web Page The CDC has culled a list of activities and resources by state that impact health literacy. It offers access to information about training, research, materials, and ways to connect to others working on improving health literacy.

Clear Communication: An NIH Health Literacy Initiative This page discusses what health literacy is, how it impacts health,  and what the NIH is doing to promote health literacy in the nation.

National Network of Libraries of Medicine: Health Literacy  A portal to information about health literacy research and interventions.


Health Literacy and Cultural Competency

AHRQ Health Literacy and Cultural Competence Browse Page This page provides a wealth of guides, resources, and tool-kits for healthcare professionals, policymakers, and patients.”

Office of Minority Health The Office is dedicated to improving the health of racial and ethnic minority populations through the development of health policies and programs that will help eliminate health disparities.

Health Resources for the Latino Population Includes a full list of agencies and offices that provide services for the Latino population.


Organizations Working in Health Literacy

Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality’s (AHRQ) mission is to improve the quality, safety, efficiency, and effectiveness of health care for all Americans.

Department of Health (MD)  This site lists major health offices in the state of Maryland, provides their contact information, and projects they are currently working on.

Kaiser Family Foundation A leader in health policy analysis, health journalism and communication, the Kaiser Family Foundation is dedicated to filling the need for trusted, independent information on the major health issues facing our nation and its people.

Plain Language This program strives to improve communication from the federal government to the public.