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Health Literacy: Home

Overview and practical approaches for healthcare providers

Health Literacy Guide Overview and Definitions

Health literacy is a major component of effective health service provision. It requires good collaboration between health care providers and patients. These pages will focus on practical skills for healthcare providers and related resources.



From the NIH site Health Literacy 

Why Health Literacy Matters

Why Health Literacy Matters

  •  People with low health literacy have a lower likelihood of getting flu shots, understanding medical labels and  instructions, and a greater likelihood of taking medicines incorrectly.
  •  Individuals with limited health literacy reported poorer health status and were less likely to use preventative care.
  • Individuals with low levels of health literacy are more likely to be hospitalized and have bad disease outcomes.
  • Inpatient spending increases by approximately $993 for patients with limited health literacy.
  • Informed consent documents may be too complex for many patients and consequently,patients may make suboptimal decisions about accepting or rejecting interventions.


  • Cancer screening information may be ineffective; patients may be diagnosed at a later stage. Treatment options may not be fully understood; some patients may not optimal treatments.


  • Primary care patients with Type 2 diabetes with inadequate health literacy often have worse glycemic control and higher rates of retinopathy.


From the NIH site Health Literacy