Health literacy is the degree to which individuals have the capacity to obtain, process and understand basic health information needed to make appropriate health decisions.
Low health literacy is more prevalent among:
Patients with low health literacy may have difficulty:
Health Literacy is especially important to HRSA and the people we serve. It is a common thread through all HRSA's programs from HIV/AIDS, to maternal and child health, to rural health, to organ transplantation. A large portion of the people HRSA serves are poor and medically underserved, who need help understanding and navigating a complex health care system. They require culturally competent providers who speak their language in order to make informed health care choices.
A number of patients may be confused with certain medical language, have difficulty understanding English, struggle with filling out forms, or have limited access to health providers in their community. With the proper training, health care professionals can identify patients' specific health literacy levels and make simple communication adjustments.
Patients’ health literacy may be affected if they have:
How health care professionals can help:
Health Literacy for Public Health Professionals Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Clear Communication: An NIH Health Literacy Initiative National Institutes of Health
Health Literacy Universal Precautions Toolkit Agency for Health Care Quality and Research