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Health Literacy Resources

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

Tools for Patients

Ask Me 3: The 3 most important questions a patient should ask their doctor, nurse or pharmacist.

Build Your Question List: Helps patients create a list of questions to ask their doctor or pharmacist.

Health Tips: What You Can Do: Printable health tips on a variety of topics, including diabetes, depression and hypertension.

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

MedSpeak in Plain Language: Makes it easier for patients to understand the "medspeak" that their doctor or nurse uses.

Rx Riddles Solved!: Doctors, pharmacists, and others use a medical "shorthand". This resource will help patients figure out what that shorthand means.

Understanding Medical Words: A Tutorial from the National Library of Medicine: Teaches patients about medical words. Patients will learn how to put together parts of medical words and quizzes will test them on what they've learned.

Websites with Easy-to-Read Materials: A list of Websites from the Ohio State University Clear Health Communication Program.

The Joint Commission

"The safety of patients cannot be assured without mitigating the negative effects of low health literacy and ineffective communications...” 

- The Joint Commission


What Did the Doctor Say? Improving Health Literacy to Protect Patient Safety: In this white paper, the Joint Commission makes three recommendations: 1. Make effective communications an organizational priority to protect the safety of patients; 2. Address patients’ communication needs across the continuum of care; 3. Pursue policy changes that promote improved practitioner-patient communication.

New & Revised Standards for Patient-Centered Communication: Standard PC.02.01.21 emphasizes effective communication between patients and providers of care.

Patient Safety Tools: Goal 2 is to Improve Communication Among Caregivers.

Tools for Clinicians

Ask Me 3: A tool to improve health communication between patients and providers. Providers should encourage patients to understand the answers to: 1. What is my main problem?;  2. What do I need to do?; and 3. Why is it important for me to do this?

Commonly Used Clinical Phrases: Written translations and audio for commonly used clinical phrases. Includes Arabic, Chinese, Farsi, French, Korean, Russian, Spanish, Tagalog and Vietnamese.

Health Information in Multiple Languages: Links to health information in dozens of languages.

Health Literacy and Patient Safety: Help Patients Understand: A manual for clinicians from the American Medical Association.

Health Literacy Kit: The AMA Foundation's primary tool for informing physicians, health care professionals and patient advocates about health literacy.

Health Literacy Universal Precautions Toolkit: Offers primary care practices a way to assess their services for health literacy considerations, raise awareness of the entire staff, and work on specific areas.

Help Your Patients Succeed: Provides tips for improving communication with patients.

Is Our Pharmacy Meeting Patients’ Needs? A Health Literacy Assessment Tool: Designed to capture perspectives of objective auditors, pharmacy staff, and patients. The three parts of the assessment are complementary and designed to form a comprehensive assessment. Although the assessment was designed to be used in outpatient pharmacies, it can be adapted for use in other pharmacy and non-pharmacy environments.

National Patient Safety Foundation: The National Patient Safety Foundation has been pursuing one mission since its founding in 1997 – to improve the safety of care provided to patients.

Strategies To Improve Communication Between Pharmacy Staff and Patients: Training program designed to introduce pharmacists to the problem of low health literacy in patient populations and to identify the implications of this problem for the delivery of health care services. 

Teaching Patients with Low Literacy Skills: This book is considered a classic text in health literacy. 

Thank You

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

Tools for Multi-Lingual Patients

Commonly Used Clinical Phrases: Provides written translations and audio for commonly used clinical phrases. Includes Arabic, Chinese, Farsi, French, Korean, Russian, Spanish, Tagalog and Vietnamese.

Health Information in Multiple Languages: Provides links to health information in dozens of languages.

MedSpeak in Plain Language (Spanish): Makes it easier for patients to understand the "medspeak" that their doctor or nurse uses.

EthnoMed: Contains patient education materials on various topics. Languages included are: Amharic, Chinese, Hmong, Karen, Khmer, Oromo, Somali, Spanish, Tigrinya and Vietnamese.

Refugee Health Information: A collaborative partnership managed by refugee health professionals whose objective is to provide quality multilingual, health information resources for those providing care to resettled refugees and asylees.

SPIRAL: Connects people to authoritative health information in Asian languages that is freely available on the Web.