Quick Guide to Health Literacy


 To Learn More About Health Literacy

Table of Contents


About This Guide


Fact Sheets





Health Literacy: A Prescription to End Confusion
Released in 2004 by the Institute of Medicine (IOM), this report examines the body of knowledge that applies to the field of health literacy and recommends actions to promote a health-literate society.
Available at: www.iom.edu/report.asp?id=19723 EXIT Disclaimer

Healthy People 2010
Healthy People 2010 is a comprehensive set of disease prevention and health promotion objectives developed to improve the health of the nation. Objectives 11-2 and 11-6 specifically address health literacy.
Available at: www.healthypeople.gov/Document/HTML/Volume1/11HealthCom.htm

The Health Literacy of America's Adults: Results from the 2003 National Assessment of Adult Literacy (NAAL)
This report is the first release of the NAAL health literacy results.  The results are based on assessment tasks designed specifically to measure the health literacy of adults living in the United States.  Health literacy was reported using four performance levels: Below Basic, Basic, Intermediate and Proficient.
Available at: http://nces.ed.gov/pubsearch/pubsinfo.asp?pubid=2006483

Communicating Health: Priorities and Strategies for Progress
This publication provides in-depth action plans for each of the six Healthy People 2010 Health Communication Objectives, including Objectives 11-2 and 11-6 on health literacy.
Available at: http://odphp.osophs.dhhs.gov/projects/HealthComm/

Literacy and Health Outcomes
This report from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) provides a systematic review of the literature on literacy, its relationship to various health outcomes and disparities, and the effectiveness of health literacy interventions.
Available at: www.ahrq.gov/clinic/epcsums/litsum.htm

Bibliography Understanding Health Literacy and Its Barriers
The National Library of Medicine's (NLM) bibliography provides a comprehensive list of health literacy citations from varying disciplines and publications. The bibliography is divided into specific topic areas.
Available at: www.nlm.nih.gov/pubs/cbm/healthliteracybarriers.html

Back to Top

To learn more about improving the usability of health information:

Scientific and Technical Information: Simply Put
This guide from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will help you translate complicated scientific and technical information into material that captures and keeps the interest of your intended audience.
Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/od/oc/simpput.pdf

CDCynergy (CD-ROM)
A multimedia CD-ROM used for planning, managing, and evaluating public health communication programs. The planning model is designed to guide the user through systematically conceptualizing, planning, developing, testing, implementing, and evaluating health communication activities, while promoting accountability and the importance of evaluation.
Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/healthmarketing/cdcynergy

Making Health Communication Programs Work (the “Pink Book”)
The planning steps in this guide from the National Cancer Institute (NCI) can help make any communication program work, regardless of size, topic, intended audience, or budget. The Pink Book describes a practical approach for planning and implementing health communication efforts.
Available at: www.cancer.gov/pinkbook

Designed to improve communication from the Federal Government to the public, this Web site contains excellent tools and examples of plain language.
Visit http://www.plainlanguage.gov

A Family Physician's Practical Guide to Culturally Competent Care
This guide, developed by the Office of Minority Health (OMH), includes cultural competency curriculum modules designed to equip family physicians with awareness, knowledge, and skills in cultural competency to better treat the increasingly diverse U.S. population.
Available at: http://cccm.thinkculturalhealth.org EXIT Disclaimer

National Standards for Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Services in Health Care
OMH has developed comprehensive standards on culturally and linguistically appropriate services (CLAS) in health care. The CLAS standards provide definitions of culturally and linguistically appropriate services and address organizational structures and policies that help healthcare professionals respond to cultural and linguistic issues presented by diverse populations.
Available at: www.omhrc.gov/assets/pdf/checked/finalreport.pdf

Policies for Federal Public Websites
The Office of Management and Budget issued the Policies for Federal Public Websites in 2004. The policies are designed to improve the usability of Federal Web sites.
Available at: http://www.usa.gov/webcontent/reqs_bestpractices/omb_policies.shtml

Back to Top

A resource for usable, useful, and accessible Web sites. This site contains information, guidelines, and checklists for conducting usability testing and user-centered design.
Visit www.usability.gov

To learn more about improving the usability of health services:

Improving Patient Safety Through Informed Consent for Patients With Limited Health Literacy
This report, from the National Quality Forum, is designed to provide an overview of major issues involved in providing informed consent for all patients, particularly those with limited health literacy.
Available at: http://www.qualityforum.org/pdf/reports/informed_consent.pdf EXIT Disclaimer

Understanding Health Literacy
This comprehensive resource of health literacy research seeks to improve understanding of this public health challenge and to stimulate research focused on reducing or eliminating the literacy barrier to effective medical diagnosis and treatment. The book includes a chapter on the literacy demands of healthcare settings.
Citation: Schwartzberg JG, VanGeest JB, Wang CC, Editors. Understanding Health Literacy. AMA Press. 2005.

To learn more about building knowledge to improve health decisionmaking:

Consumers in Health Care: The Burden of Choice
This report by the California HealthCare Foundation presents the latest research on consumer decisionmaking, explores the methods consumers use to make choices, and looks at what influences affect consumer action. The research suggests important implications for the development of effective information tools for consumers.
Available at: www.chcf.org/topics/view.cfm?itemid=115327 EXIT Disclaimer

healthfinder® is an award-winning Federal Web site for consumers, developed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and other Federal agencies. Since 1997, healthfinder® has been recognized as a key resource for finding the best government and nonprofit health and human services information on the Internet. healthfinder® links to carefully selected information and Web sites from more than 1,500 health-related organizations.
Available at: www.healthfinder.gov

Back to Top

« Previous

Department of Health & Human Services logo Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion logo