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Addressing health literacy gaining traction

Health literacy logoAs mentioned previously, health literacy is “the ability to get information, understand it, and use information to lower risk and better health.” People “with low health literacy are more likely to report poor health, have an incomplete understanding of their health problems and treatment, and are at greater risk of hospitalization” (Pawlak, 2005). Many organizations, groups and political entities are seeking to address this issue. This weekend, Iowa will host its first health literacy conference, “Health Literacy in Iowa: Partnering to Change Research into Action” (Villanueva-Whitman, 2012).

Looking for resources to improve health literacy and communication at your medical practice? The Health Literacy section of the AMA’s website toolkits, patient safety tip cards, and other resources to assist providers. Also, the Agency for Healthcare and Research Quality (AHRQ) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has resources for addressing health literacy and cultural competency.

What tools have you found helpful in improving patient health literacy? Tell us about it!



Pawlak, R. (2005). Economic considerations of health literacy. Nurs Econ, 23(4), 173-180, 147.

Villanueva-Whitman, E. (2012). Communication is key to better health care  Retrieved April 26, 2012, from