You can find information on health literacy, clear communication, plain language, and cultural competence on the following websites.
Health Literacy Basics
Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality AHRQ's Health Literacy resources help health care professionals and delivery organizations make information easier to understand and systems easier to navigate.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention - Health Literacy Find background information, research, and key resources on health literacy in public health and health care.
Roundtable on Health Literacy The mission of the Roundtable is to inform, inspire, and activate a wide variety of stakeholders to support the development, implementation, and sharing of evidence-based health literacy practices and policies.
Plain Language Basics
Plain language is communication that helps people
- find what they need
- understand what they find
- use what they find to meet their needs
Learn more about plain language.
Plain Language Videos
This series of brief animated videos uses humor and graphics to show plain language techniques. A caution about the video on bulleted lists: it uses a Western movie skit with simulated guns, bullets, and shooting as a pun on "bullets." The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services sponsored the videos.
Cultural Competence Basics
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health - Think Cultural Health The website provides information on quality care and services that are responsive to diverse cultural health beliefs, health literacy, and other communication needs.
Other Learning Resources
Health Literacy & Equity Chronicles for Health & Well-Being
Our blog has a new home! Check it out here: blog.umd.edu/healthliteracy
This blog explores the intersection between health literacy and health equity as essential factors in a healthy society. We welcome your comments on posts and suggestions for future topics. If you are interested in contributing to this blog, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
April 1, 2019 - Dr. Cynthia Baur - Health Literacy and Equity Principles Can Bring True Reform to US Healthcare
- Stay tuned!
- Feb 11: Always Use Teach-Back webinar from the Institute for Healthcare Advancement
- Oct 19-21: Integrated Health Literacy Research / Practice / Policy Virtual Conference
- Oct 27: Webinar: Ethical Challenges for Public Health Practice When Working for Federal Agencies
- Mar 26: Health Literacy Maryland meeting in White Plains, Maryland (Charles County)
- April 27: Maryland Day
- June 17: Health Literacy Maryland meeting in Cumberland, Maryland (Allegany County)
- June 20: Practicing Clear Communication Techniques*
- Sept 16: Health Literacy Maryland meeting in Cockeysville, Maryland (Baltimore County)
- Oct 10-11: Health Literacy in Action Conference in College Park, Maryland
- Nov 14: Practicing Clear Communication Techniques*
- Dec 12: Health Literacy Maryland meeting in Salisbury, Maryland (Wicomico County)
*Only for UMD Extension faculty and staff. If you're interested in a training like this, contact us: email@example.com
Dr. Devlon Jackson presents on communication inequalities in communities of color experiencing psychological distress.
- Apr 25: Presentation - Health Literacy Huddle
- Apr 3: Presentation - Public Health Research Day
- Sept 6: Webinar - Principles of Plain Language
- Oct 4: Speaker Series - Emerging Voices of Health Literacy Research, Catherine Maybury, MPH
- Oct 10: Webinar - Clear Communication Index
- Oct 25 - 26: Health Literacy in Action Conference - Read the summary here
- Dec 12: Speaker Series - Emerging Voices of Health Literacy Research, Devlon Jackson, PhD
Health Literacy Legislation
In various states and cities in the nation, policymakers and advocates are working on policies that affect health literacy in communities. The Horowitz Center is tracking information about health literacy-related law and regulations. Below is a list as of December 2018 of passed and proposed legislation. Please contact the Center at firstname.lastname@example.org with 2019 information.
This act requires the Maryland Office of Minority Health and Health Disparities to develop courses with cultural competency, sensitivity, and health literacy, that are designed to address the problem of racial and ethnic disparities in health care access, utilization, treatment decisions, quality, and outcomes. (Passed)
The task force would identify barriers to receiving dental services including the impact of low oral health literacy. (Did not advance)
Health Literacy Laws
DC Law to Establish a Health Literacy Council
The Health Literacy Council Establishment Act of 2017 establishes a council to "improve the health literacy and knowledge of mental health for District residents." Under this law, the Mayor is required to collaborate with the Council on advancing health literacy education in D.C's public education system and workforce programs. (Adopted but funds not available to implement)
The resolution details concerns about retroactive emergency room policies that discriminate against patients, including those with lower health literacy. The resolution calls for a study of the problems and recommendations for action or legislation from the committee.
The law calls for web-based technology to link providers, beneficiaries, and health plans to address deficiencies in medical literacy and demonstrate that personal responsibility is enhanced by technology.
The state may include educational strategies to increase health literacy for Oklahoma Medicaid Program participants in a primary care program.
California Proposal for Revised Health Education and Materials
The legislation would ensure that all written health education and informing materials developed by managed care plans are at or below the equivalent of sixth grade reading level in English.
The resolution requested the establishment of a certification process for services provided by community health workers. The competencies included understanding public health concepts and health literacy and the ability to understand health information technology.
A proposed law seeks to establish an "interagency task force on health literacy, to study health literacy and develop recommendations for improving health literacy" within the state.
South Carolina Proposal to Allow Certain Health Practitioners to Receive State Income Tax Credit
The law would authorize a practitioner who practices in a Health Enterprise Zone to receive a state income tax credit and loan repayment assistance. To be eligible, the Health Enterprise Zone practitioner must demonstrate competency in cultural, linguistic, and health literacy in a manner determined by the department.
LegiScan is a legislation tracking device. You can search for health literacy-related legislation here.
On the following websites, you can find a range of tools for improving your professional and organizational health literacy capacities and practices.
The Horowitz Center created an evergreen, non-partisan Voter's Guide in English and Spanish to help voters make decisions in upcoming elections. Please email email@example.com to request a digital copy.
- Guidelines for health literacy and more - Follow these guidelines every time you or your organization delivers information or services for health and well-being.
- Building Health Literate Organizations: A Guidebook to Achieving Organizational Change - This guidebook is based on the 10 Attributes of a Health Literate Health Care Organization and helps healthcare organizations engage in organizational change to become health literate. (Source: Abrams, Kurtz-Rossi, Riffenburgh, and Savage 2014)
- Health Literacy Universal Precautions Toolkit (2nd ed.) - Primary care practices can use this toolkit to help reduce the complexity of health care, increase patient understanding of health information, and enhance support for patients of all health literacy levels. (Source: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality 2015)
- Always Use Teach-Back! - This toolkit helps healthcare providers learn to use teach-back to support patients and families throughout the care continuum. (Source: UnityPoint Health n.d.)
- Health literacy trainings - Build your health literacy foundation with these free online courses. (Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
For more resources, check out the AHRQ's Health Literacy page.