Skip to main content

Year in Review: Center for Health Literacy

Year in Review

Check out the annual highlights of our research, education, and outreach activities! 

2022 was a landmark year for the Horowitz Center for Health Literacy. We celebrated our 15th anniversary, co-hosted our 5th annual Health Literacy in Action conference, and became Maryland’s designated Consumer Health Information Hub. We also celebrated the career and acknowledged the retirement of our founding donor and oral health literacy pioneer, Dr. Alice M. Horowitz.

 

Tribute to Dr. Alice M. Horowitz

Oral Health Symposium morning speakers standing smiling by the testudo statue in the School of Public health lobby.
Oral Health Symposium in-person morning presenters. From left to right: Dr. Dushanka Kleinman, Dr. Cynthia Baur, Dr. Alice Horowitz, Dr. Rima Rudd, Dr. Debony Hughes, Dr. Harry Goodman, and Dean Boris Lushniak.

The Center held an oral health symposium, “Accelerating Oral and General Health for All through Health Literacy: A Symposium and Tribute to Dr. Alice M. Horowitz” that honored Dr. Horowitz’s career and established priorities for continuing oral health literacy efforts. Speakers and attendees reflected on the past 20 years of work, discussed what lessons can be carried forward, and identified a set of objectives and recommendations to advance oral health through health literacy in Maryland and beyond. Find the session materials, including the agenda, summary, and event photos, on our oral health and health literacy webpage.

 

New and Continuing Funding Projects

COVID-19 Vaccine Communication Project

Our collaborative COVID-19 vaccine communication project with UMD’s Prevention Research Center (PRC) wrapped up in May. The project team worked with local health improvement coalitions and health departments in Maryland, as well as a national network LGBTQ+ serving organizations, to develop and implement behavioral nudges encouraging COVID-19 vaccination. We leave behind a wealth of communication resources for community organizations to use to encourage vaccination.

 

Advancing Health Literacy in Baltimore City, MD: Baltimore versus COVID

The Center assisted the Baltimore City Health Department in planning, implementing and evaluating the health literacy activities for its Baltimore versus COVID project. We are providing customized health literacy training sessions about the teach-back method to confirm patient understanding and developing organizational health literacy workshops for partner organizations. 

 

Advancing Health Literacy in Frederick, MD: Lifting All Voices Project 
Community health workers from AACF discuss COVID-19 vaccination with residents as they wait at a food distribution event in Frederick in June. A person with a clipboard stands by a red car in a line of cars, talking to the driver.
Community health workers from the Asian American Center of Frederick (AACF) discuss COVID-19 vaccination with residents as they wait at a food distribution event in Frederick in June.

We continued to partner on the federal Office of Minority Health–funded “Lifting All Voices” project which provides plain language COVID-19 vaccination information in 9 languages and promotes personal and organizational health literacy best practices with a focus on implementing long-lasting changes. 

Our team

  • Collaborated with community health workers to develop educational materials about COVID-19 vaccines in up to 9 different languages
  •  Provided organizational health literacy training and support for Frederick County Health Care Coalition leaders and workgroup members, including Frederick Health Hospital and the Frederick County Health Department
  • Supported community health workers’ outreach efforts at community and schools events by providing training on health literate communication skills and developing culturally and linguistically appropriate COVID-19 educational materials
  • Interviewed Asian language-speaking community leaders and residents to identify how they prefer to find and use health information
  • Created a clear communication practices training module for health care providers that will be delivered in early 2023. 

 

“HealthyMe” Smartphone Application

The HealthyMe/Mi Salud team completed our National Library of Medicine–funded smartphone application (app) project. The app is in English and Spanish for finding and receiving personalized health information and currently tailored for Black and Hispanic adults. Dr. Devlon Jackson has been exploring the feasibility and acceptability of making the app available in one or more of the Asian languages in the Lifting All Voices project. She is conducting interviews with community members, leaders, and health workers that speak different Asian languages and live or work in Frederick, MD. 

 

Diabetes Prevention and Management Activities

The Center continues its diabetes prevention collaborative projects with FHI360. We completed the two-year CDC-funded “Partners Approach.” This project intentionally recruited pairs of family and friends to join diabetes prevention programs. We studied if they stayed in the program longer and how they shared information and communicated about diabetes prevention. Our participants had high program completion rates, met program goals, and reported partners were a great asset. This year, we’re doing a Black Families Defying Diabetes Together project with FHI360 and the African American Health Program of Montgomery County, MD. Black families will work together on health literacy skills for diabetes prevention and management. Stay tuned for results!

 

COVID-19 Activities, Media, and Presentations

Over three years after the emergence of COVID-19, clear communication, plain language, and health literacy continue to guide our pandemic response. 

This year, our work on COVID-19 included:

  • Preparing and distributing audience-tailored social media posts and print materials urging COVID-19 vaccination
  • Our director, Dr. Cynthia Baur, being interviewed or cited in news media including NPR’s Marketplace and Morning Edition
  • Publishing a “Hot Topics” newsletter on trending topics about COVID-19 and how local organizations can address them with their communities
Drawing of four people smiling with their arms around each other. Text above the people reads "Stay up to date on COVID-19 and encourage family and friends to do the same."
Evergreen COVID-19 Social Media Content

This Instagram post is from a large supply of social media content produced by the COVID-19 Vaccine Communication Project in multiple languages for community organizations and local health departments. It would be captioned By working together, we can safely enjoy getting together! Before your next gathering, make sure you’re up to date on #COVID19 vaccines — and encourage your loved ones to get vaccinated too. Learn more at the link in our bio.”

See more content

HLiA Conference October 13–14

Graphic advertising the Health Literacy in Action Conference happening virtually Oct 13-14, 2022

 

We partnered again with the Institute for Health for Healthcare Advancement (IHA) for our 5th annual Health Literacy in Action Conference, held virtually this year. The event featured sessions on the legislative approach to addressing health literacy in Maryland, digital health literacy, public librarians’ role during the pandemic, and a family-based approach to diabetes prevention. The conference archive will be available in February of 2023 for all who register for a free membership to IHA’s Solutions Center. 

 

Teaching and Mentoring the Next Generation of Health Literacy Leaders

Teaching health literacy continues to be a priority for us. Our undergraduate course is still offered in person at the College Park campus in the fall and spring and we’ve expanded our undergraduate course offering with a virtual fall course through the Universities at Shady Grove. We also offer a graduate course each fall semester.

Our collaboration with the University of Maryland, Baltimore continues as we work to implement the suggestions of the President’s White Paper Report. Our College Park and Baltimore faculty team is developing a course to prepare health professions faculty to teach health literacy.

 

Student and Staff Additions, Celebrations, and Transitions

Graduations 
  • Colleen Berk, a student employee supporting the Center, graduated with her B.S.in Public Health Science and transitioned to her new role as a Project Assistant for the Center
  • Erika Capinguian, a mentee of Dr. Baur, graduated with her MPH in Behavioral and Community Health.. 
  • Roberta Koomson, content team member for Lifting All Voices, graduated with her MPH in Behavioral and Community Health.
  • Shira Laserson, Student Employee Evaluation Assistant for the COVID-19 Vaccine Communication Project, graduated with her B.S. in Behavioral and Community health.
  • Alina Majid, a mentee of Dr. Baur, graduated with her MPH in Behavioral and Community Health and transitioned to a Health Communication Fellowship at the National Cancer Institute
  • Karla Clara Vega, content team member for Lifting All Voices, graduated with her MPH in Behavioral and Community Health and transitioned to a staff position on the project. 
Transitions
  • Leah Barnes, Project Assistant for the COVID-19 Vaccine Communication Project, transitioned to her new role as a Senior Analyst for Aetna.
  • Rya Griffis, Project Coordinator for the COVID-19 Vaccine Communication Project, transitioned to her new role as a Program Manager for the American Public Health Association.
  • Anum Answar Iqbal, Project Assistant for the Lifting All Voices project, transitioned to a new role.
  • Claire Mercer, an intern supporting the COVID-19 Vaccine Communication Project, graduated with her B.S.in Behavioral and Community Health and Transitioned to her new role as a Business Support Specialist for the Maryland Department of Health.
  • Julia Sloan, an intern supporting the COVID-19 Vaccine Communication Project, graduated with her B.S. in Behavioral and Community Health.
  • Candela Vazquez, Project Assistant for the COVID-19 Vaccine Communication Project, started her MPH at our School of Public Health and transitioned to her new role as a Graduate Research Assistant at the Public Health Aerobiology (PHAB) Laboratory.

 

On to 2023!

We are excited to keep working on our funded projects and begin our activities as Maryland’s Consumer Health Information Hub in 2023. If you have any ideas or suggestions for what the Hub should do, please let us know by filling out this form.

Want to work with us in 2023? Email us at healthliteracy@umd.edu!

For most of 2021, the Horowitz Center for Health Literacy operated like many of you: virtual, scattered, and moment-by-moment as the world changed in dramatic ways. And, like many of you, we never stopped pushing for clear communication, knowing that understandable health information and services mattered more than ever.

As of fall, we’re back on campus and in full swing. The Center initiated two COVID-19 health literacy projects as part of the pandemic response and advanced health literacy in many other domains. In October, we successfully completed our second virtual Health Literacy in Action (HLiA) conference and are already planning for October 2022! 

HLiA is open to anyone from anywhere, but we hope the conference remains a main gathering place for Maryland health literacy advocates. Please let us know what you’re working on and share your thoughts about Health Literacy Maryland, HLiA, and other Center activities by completing this brief survey by Jan 21, 2022. Fill out the form and you can enter your name in a raffle for one free HLiA conference registration in 2022. The survey responses are anonymous, and there will be a separate form for your contact information. 

Here are our highlights from 2021.

 

New and Continuing Funded Projects

The Center continues to expand its innovative applications of health literacy strategies to COVID-19 and diabetes prevention. 

  • COVID-19 Vaccine Communication Project - Our team helps Maryland county health departments, Maryland Local Health Improvement Coalitions (LHICs), and LGBTQ-serving organizations in different parts of the U.S. implement behavioral nudges and remove barriers to getting the COVID-19 vaccine.
  • Advancing Health Literacy - Based in the City of Frederick, Maryland, this project intends to improve personal and organizational health literacy through educating community health workers, disseminating accurate and actionable COVID-19 information in multiple languages to residents who don’t speak English, and working with local groups on organizational health literacy plans  
  • Family and Friend Pairs for Diabetes Prevention - The Center continued this pilot project to see whether joining the DPP with a family member or close friend can improve recruitment and retention in the program. Over the course of 2021, we worked with 6 National DPP sites in Maryland to implement this paired approach.
  • Black Family-Focused Diabetes Control, Self-Management, and Prevention Program - In partnership with FHI360, the Center launched a pilot project to see whether providing diabetes management and prevention programs, plus support from a community health worker, to a family unit can improve outcomes. We will work with 80 families in Montgomery County, Maryland to implement this family approach.
  • Smartphone app for prevention - The Center’s research team worked with 80 Black and Hispanic adults in our field test of a prevention app for smartphones. The field test ends December 2021 and the team will begin reporting data in spring 2022.

 

COVID-19 Activities and Presentations

Health literacy and clear communication are crucial elements of successful pandemic management. Over the year, the Horowitz Center:

  • presented about COVID-19 related on health literacy, risk communication, and effective communication
  • participated in UMD committees and task forces

 

HLiA Conference October 14-15, 2021

The Horowitz Center and the Institute for Healthcare Advancement teamed up once again for a health literacy conference focusing on practice and policy. The 2-day virtual event showcased sessions on Advancing Health Literacy projects funded by the federal Office of Minority Health, accessibility, telehealth, and misinformation.

 

Teaching and mentoring the next generation of health literacy leaders

The Center continues to teach health literacy courses to graduate and undergraduate students. Our undergraduate course is popular among School of Public Health students, and we plan to keep offering it during both spring and fall semesters. The graduate course, as always, is taught during the fall semester. Center staff also participated in and presented at student organization meetings. We continue to foster the next generation of health literacy advocates!

The Center continued its collaboration on health literacy education with University of Maryland Baltimore (UMB) faculty and students. The combined College Park and Baltimore faculty team mentored a student team that produced a white paper on health literacy education on the two campuses. The faculty team expanded its reach with an October 14 convening of educational leaders from Maryland’s public universities to discuss health literacy education. Dr. Jay Perman, Chancellor of the University System of Maryland, provided opening remarks, and his video is on the center’s home page.

Dr. Catherine Maybury, one of the Center’s core faculty, worked on two health literacy education projects funded by seed grants from the UMB Center for Interprofessional Education. Both projects use interprofessional team-based training to increase students’ knowledge and skills to use health literacy practices to enhance respectful and clear communication with patients. The first project involves a student run organization that provides health education in a community setting in West Baltimore. It focuses on using teach-back to confirm client understanding of health information. The second project is implemented in a pediatric Gastrointestinal Clinic and it focuses on using plain language instead of medical jargon to explain the patient’s condition and treatment plan.

 

Student and Staff Additions, Celebrations, and Transitions

Dr. Laura Koo, one of our Rima Rudd Health Literacy Fellows, successfully defended her dissertation, Parental Health Literacy, Empowerment, and Advocacy in the Context of Food Allergies Management in Schools. Koo will continue her positions as an assistant professor, University of Maryland School of Nursing (UMSON), and as a nurse practitioner in a pre-operative evaluation center. In December, Koo was appointed a 2021 UMSON Dean’s Scholarship Scholar (DSS) for Spring 2022. The DSS Program provides protected time and mentorship for one semester/six months to early- to -mid-year nursing faculty who would like to increase their focus on research and scholarship. Koo plans to continue to integrate health literacy into her clinical practice, teaching, and scholarly activities. 

In addition to Dr. Koo, we celebrated graduations and transitions for 

  • Leah Barnes, a Community Health major who did her undergraduate internship with Dr. Baur and then became staff on one of the Center’s COVID-19 projects
  • Neil Johnson, a Computer Science major who worked for four years on our smartphone project and built the app that fueled the project
  • Abigail Bridges and and Rya Griffis, both Master’s of Public Health graduates who worked as interns on our Local Health Improvement Coalitions project and transitioned to project staff

In 2021, we also welcomed a mix of SPH graduates and students in various project roles. Cande Vazquez, Roberta Taylor, Leah Richey, Karla Clara Vega, and Shira Laserson all joined our COVID-19 project teams. We are glad to have them on board!

The Horowitz Center is nothing without our student team. We are grateful for their hard work and dedication!

 

Hello, 2022

We look forward to continuing our work in 2022! If you’d like to partner with us on a project, please don't hesitate to reach out: healthliteracy@umd.edu

2020 was a year to remember for the whole world. For the Horowitz Center, we contributed to the pandemic response and stayed focused on advancing health literacy in multiple domains. Here are some highlights:

COVID-19 Activities and Presentations


Health literacy and clear communication are crucial elements of successful pandemic management. Over the year, the Horowitz Center:

  • presented about COVID-19 related on health literacy, risk communication, and effective communication
  • participated in UMD committees and task forces 
  • produced a series of animations encouraging young adults to consider six specific factors before participating in activities
  • led the Prince George’s Health Care Action Coalition Health Literacy Learning Community that facilitated lessons learned and networking on community strategies and communication for the pandemic response   

Select activities and presentations


HLiA/HARC Conference - October 19-21, 2020

Health Literacy in Action: Health Literacy Annual Research Conference, Integrating Research, Practice and Policy logo

The Horowitz Center, the Institute for Healthcare Advancement, and the Health Literacy Annual Research Conference organizers teamed up for a health literacy conference integrating practice, policy, and research. The 2.5 day virtual event showcased how research informs practice, practice provides insights for research, and policy helps to implement improvements arising from these insights.

Conference website and session recordings 


New Statewide Diabetes Projects

Screenshot of a webpage for the Resource Library for Maryland LHICs.

The Center continues to expand its innovative applications of health literacy strategies to diabetes prevention. 

  • Health Literacy Technical Assistance - Over the summer, in partnership with the Maryland Department of Health to implement the state's Diabetes Action Plan, the Horowitz Center provided online health literacy trainings and individual consultations to health departments and local health improvement coalitions.
  • Local Health Improvement Coalition (LHIC) Technical Assistance - Our work over the summer transitioned to capacity building technical assistance for Maryland’s LHICs, as they play a critical role in implementing the Maryland Diabetes Action Plan. We will continue working with LHICs in 2021 on coalition building, community outreach, addressing diabetes, and using data to inform priority-setting.
  • Family Approach Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP) - In partnership with FHI360, the Horowitz Center launched a pilot project to see whether joining the DPP with a family member or close friend can improve recruitment and retention in the program. We will work with 6 DPP sites in Maryland to implement this paired approach.

Maryland Committees on Consumer/Patient Issues

Dr. Baur has provided health literacy expertise as a member of 2 Maryland workgroups focused on consumer and patient issues in healthcare. She is a member of Maryland’s Health Information Exchange (CRISP) Patient Education and Engagement Workgroup and the Health Services Cost Review Commission (HSCRC) Consumer Standing Advisory Committee. Both groups are working to make information about health care easier for consumers and patients to find and understand.


Student Additions, Celebrations, and Transitions

A zoom call with nine people smiling and giving the "thumbs-up" sign.

 

Dr. Catherine Maybury, one of our Rima Rudd Health Literacy Fellows and instructor of our undergraduate health literacy class, successfully defended her dissertation, National Survey of Fourth-Year Dental Students about Their Knowledge, Skills, Self-efficacy and Intention to Use Selected Communication Techniques & Caries Preventive Regimens. She will continue working with the Horowitz Center as a full-time researcher and instructor. Congrats, Dr. Maybury!

In addition to Dr. Maybury, we celebrated graduations and transitions for Maris Medina, Leyla Merlo, Camilla Obasiolu, Apryl Ogallo, Dr. Daniel Park, Sydni Thomas, and Erick Tassio. 

Ten people smiling on a Horowitz Center Zoom call.

 

In 2020, we also welcomed Dr. Patricia Garcia, Katherine Raymond, Colleen Berk, Grace Suh, Leah Barnes, Abigail Bridges, Rya Griffis, Nya Ferguson, Michelle Truong, and Shurooq Hasan to various project teams. We are glad to have them on board!

The Horowitz Center is nothing without our student team. We are grateful for their hard work and dedication!

Teaching and mentoring the next generation of health literacy leaders

Over the year, Center staff taught health literacy courses to graduate and undergraduate students. Our undergraduate course is popular among School of Public Health students and we are excited to offer it during both spring and fall semesters. We continue to offer the graduate course in the fall semester. Center staff also participated in and presented at student organization meetings. We continue to foster the next generation of health literacy advocates!

In support of the MPower Scholars Program, Drs. Baur, Horowitz, Maybury, and Kleinman from the Center and a team of University of Maryland Baltimore faculty mentored a team of UMB graduate students and an SPH undergraduate student in a 10-week health literacy project. The Scholars Program brings faculty and students from the College Park and Baltimore campuses together to do focused research during the summer. The team presented their work at the October 2020 HLiA/HARC conference. 

The MPower Steering Committee asked the team to extend their work into the 2020-2021 academic year. The faculty team is collaborating on new projects, and the students have transitioned to UMB President’s Fellows. The Fellows are producing a white paper with recommendations about how the Baltimore and College Park campuses can educate students about health literacy as a social determinant of health. They will present their results in April 2021. Stay tuned!     

Hello, 2021

We look forward to continuing our work in 2021! If you’d like to partner with us on a project, please don't hesitate to reach out: healthliteracy@umd.edu

2019 was a busy year for the Horowitz Center for Health Literacy! Here are some highlights:

We sponsored Health Literacy Maryland activities and the second Health Literacy in Action conference. Other activities at the School of Public Health include an undergraduate course, student mentorship, and new staff. 

Health Literacy Undergraduate Course

Video about the undergraduate course led by Heather Platter, a former Rudd Fellow at the Horowitz Center for Health Literacy.


In the Spring 2018 semester, we offered an undergraduate course in health literacy for the first time. 35 students from various majors and interests took the class and used the social ecological model to take a deeper look into health literacy issues and make recommendations to solve these issues.

Maryland Day & Voices of Health Literacy

Voices of health literacy slide with the question "What's confusing about getting health info?" and a quote from Barbara W. that reads "You have to understand the language, you have to do research. You should have some type of medical background or interest. I guess the hardest part is [when] you don't have a health provider, you don't have a computer, if you don't have a support system when you can ask someone"

 

 

Voices of Health Literacy is the Center's multimedia project to feature UMD students, faculty, and staff perspectives on and experiences with health information, communication, and services. For this phase of the project the Center's communications intern, Maris Medina, interviewed Maryland Day attendees about how health literacy affects their lives.


Student Celebrations & Transitions

Heather Platter, alumna of School of Public Health at the University of Maryland

Heather Platter, one of our Rima Rudd Health Literacy Fellows and instructor for our first undergraduate health literacy class, successfully defended her dissertation and is now working as a Cancer Prevention Fellow at the National Cancer Institute. Learn more about Heather here and here

Horowitz center students, faculty, and staff in a group photo. There are 11 people pictured.

 

We are nothing without our student team, who worked on various Center projects in 2019. We are grateful for their hard work and dedication!

New Post-Doctoral Researcher

In 2019, Dr. Daniel Park joined our Center team. Dr. Park is interested in helping older adults, family members, and health professionals better understand and use eHealth and mHealth technologies and build a support network where they work together to empower older adults in healthcare.

Projects

  • The Center continued working on our smartphone app for disease prevention and health promotion. 
  • We also continued our work with the Prince George’s County Health Department on PreventionLink, a CDC-funded project to reduce chronic disease in southern Maryland. To learn more, visit the "Active Research Grants" tab on our Projects page.
  • We collaborated with UnitedHealth Group to add more terms and plain language definitions to their Just Plain Clear Glossary. To learn more, visit the "Plain Language Glossary Project with United Health Group" tab on our Projects page.

Check out our Health Literacy Maryland 2019 Review for more activities. We expect 2020 to be equally exciting and action-packed!

2018 was an action-packed year for the Horowitz Center for Health Literacy! Here are some highlights:

We sponsored the Health Literacy Huddle, Health Literacy Maryland, and the inaugural Health Literacy in Action conference! To learn more about each of these, visit their respective tabs on our Projects page. Other activities at the School of Public Health include guest lectures, student mentorship, and new student recruitment. 

Emerging Voices of Health Literacy Research

Seven people sitting around a conference table.

In this speaker series, School of Public Health faculty and graduate students shared their health literacy research with undergraduate and graduate students to get them excited about integrating health literacy into their future work.  


Voices of Health Literacy

What is Health Literacy Slide with a picture of Suna, a student, and the quote "If we want to break it down to what's really important in making sure our communities are healthy, it's making sure people are getting proper information...It's the start of everything - the start of helping, curing, finding treatments."

Voices of Health Literacy is the Center's multimedia project to feature UMD students, faculty, and staff perspectives on and experiences with health information, communication, and services. The Center's communications intern, Maris Medina, interviewed students on campus — encompassing different backgrounds and majors — about how health literacy affects their lives. The first phase of the project focuses on students and will expand to faculty and staff in the near future.


Public Health Research Day

Panelists sitting at a table in front of a presentation.

Dr. Cynthia Baur chaired a panel on Health and Science Literacy for Trust-building with the Public at UMD's annual Public Health Research Day 2018.   


Presentations

Dr. Baur with the board of SEIPH in front of a presentation screen.

We presented to Students Engaged in Public Health, a student organization, about using the Clear Communication Index to develop materials for a future project. 

Funded Projects

  • The Horowitz Center received funding from the National Library of Medicine to build a smartphone app for disease prevention and health promotion.
  • We also received funding from the Prince George's County Health Department to collaborate on the CDC-funded Southern Maryland Chronic Disease Prevention Program.

Check out our Health Literacy Maryland 2018 Review for more activities. We expect 2019 to be equally exciting and action-packed!