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Health Literacy Resources

Use this guide to locate Web resources related to health literacy, and health communications

Overview of Health Literacy

About Health Literacy: Defines health literacy, discusses its prevalence and outlines how health professionals can help.

Health Literacy: Offers an overview of health literacy, including research findings and the economic impact of low health literacy.

Health Literacy Fact Sheets: Includes statistical information for topics such as Impact of Low Health Literacy on Health care Expenditures.

MedlinePlus Health Literacy: Provides links to information about health literacy, including clinical trials, journal articles and glossaries.

NIH Health Literacy: Answers common questions about health literacy and provides links to helpful reports and Websites.

Quick Guide to Health Literacy: Overview of health literacy concepts, techniques for improving health literacy and suggestions for addressing health literacy in your organization.

MEDLINE/PubMed Search and Health Literacy Information Resources

Plain English Medical Dictionary (From University of Michigan)

The Plain Language Medical Dictionary is a project of the University of Michigan Taubman Health Sciences Library as part of the Michigan Health Literacy Awareness project. To use, click on the drop down menu to browse the list of high-level medical terms. Once a word or phrase is selected, the plain language translation will appear in the box.

University of Michigan Plain Language Medical Dictionary

What is Health Literacy?

Health literacy is the capacity to obtain, process, and understand basic health information and services to make appropriate health decisions.

- Healthy People 2010


Health literacy allows the public and personnel working in all health-related contexts to find, understand, evaluate, communicate, and use information.  

Health literacy is the use of a wide range of skills that improve the ability of people to act on information in order to live healthier lives.   

These skills include reading, writing, listening, speaking, numeracy, and critical analysis, as well as communication and interaction skills.

Calgary Charter

Health Literacy Programs & Groups

Ask Me 3: A program to promote communication between health care providers and patients in order to improve health outcomes.

Clear Communication: Focuses on providing information that is accessible to specific audiences based on cultural competence and incorporating plain language approaches and new technologies.

Clear Health Communication Initiative: Clear health communication is an important part of a patient's ability to understand and act upon health information.

Health Education Literacy Program (HELP): Promotes information about medicine safety to adults with limited literacy skills.

Health Literacy Consulting: Helps organizations communicate health information in ways that patients, families, and employees can understand.

Health Literacy Studies: The Health Literacy Studies at Harvard is engaged in a variety of research efforts focused on communication and literacy skills.

NC Program on Health Literacy: The group’s goal is to further health literacy collaborations among university disciplines to improve health outcomes.

Program for Readability In Science & Medicine (PRISM): Initiative to improve the readability of consent forms and other print materials used in communication with study participants.

Roundtable on Health Literacy: This Institute of Medicine Roundtable brings together leaders from academia, industry, government, foundations and associations, and representatives of patient and consumer interests who have an interest and role in improving health literacy.

Healthy People 2020: How Health Literacy Fits In

Healthy People 2020

Overview: Communicating Health: Priorities and Strategies for Progress

Objectives: Health Communication

National Action Plan to Improve Health Literacy

The National Action Plan to Improve Health Literacy is aimed at making health information and services easier to understand and use. (May 2010)

Thank You

Thank you to Adrianne Leonardelli and the Duke University Medical Center Library. The Lamar Soutter Library Health Literacy Resource Guide was based on information from the Duke University Medical Center Guide on Health Literacy.