In the News

On this page you will find the latest news on what’s happening in the world of patient engagement and health literacy.


Combating Xenophobia in the Covid-19 Pandemic: The Importance of Health Literacy

2020 (Inquiries Journal)

The emergence of the novel coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, has caused a global pandemic of the coronavirus disease, COVID-19. Delaying the spread of the virus quickly gained international prioritization; however, the growing cases of xenophobia –– the dislike, prejudice, or fear of people from other countries (Oxford Learner’s Dictionaries, n.d.) –– did not. The prevalence of the virus has been coupled with increased reports of xenophobia in the United States, targeting Asian and Asian-American communities due to the virus’ reported origins in Wuhan, .

Access Combating Xenophobia in the Covid-19 Pandemic: The Importance of Health Literacy


Simple contents and good readability: Improving health literacy for LEP populations

September, 2020 (ScienceDirect)

Highlights:

    •Readability tests can be a useful tool for revising health information to increase readability.•Online health information should be simplified and tailored to the needs of those with LEP.•Basic health information should be written in simple English before being translated into other languages.

Access Simple contents and good readability: Improving health literacy for LEP populations


Low health literacy tied to worse heart failure outcomes

July 29, 2020 (Medical Xpress)

Poor health literacy is associated with worse heart failure outcomes, according to a review published in the June issue of JACC: Heart Failure…Matteo Fabbri, M.D., from the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, and colleagues conducted a systematic literature review to evaluate associations between health literacy and health-related outcomes in patients with heart failure.

Access Low health literacy tied to worse heart failure outcomes


Health literacy, digital health literacy, and the implementation of digital health technologies in cancer care: the need for a strategic approach

July, 2020 (DocWireNews)

Issue addressed Digital health technologies can potentially reduce health disparities in cancer care. However, benefits of digital health technology depend partly on users’ digital health literacy, that is, ‘capabilities and resources required for individuals to use and benefit from digital health resources’, which combines health and digital literacy. We examined issues for digital health technology implementation in cancer care regarding digital health literacy, via stakeholder consultation.

Access Health literacy, digital health literacy, and the implementation of digital health technologies in cancer care: the need for a strategic approach


Special Supplement: Health Literacy and Adult Basic Education

July, 2020 (Health Literacy Research and Practice)

This supplement of HLRP: Health Literacy Research and Practice seeks to affirm the relevance of adult basic education (ABE) to advancements in the health literacy field. The worlds of health literacy and ABE have much in common, as both are preoccupied with promoting self-efficacy. Yet, they have largely remained unconnected in their research, policy, and practice. This supplement aims to highlight ways in which the health literacy and ABE fields have intersected and influenced each other to the benefit of adult populations with inadequate literacy skills, including those with limited print literacy and numeracy skills, and those with limited English proficiency.

Access Special Supplement: Health Literacy and Adult Basic Education


Lack of Health Literacy a Barrier to Grasping COVID-19

June 10, 2020 (MedPage Today)

Higher literacy levels “can increase peoples’ ability to take action to manage their healthcare,” said Earnestine Willis, MD, MPH, a member of the Roundtable on Health literacy and a retired professor of pediatrics at the Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee. Strategies to increase health literacy “can help promote trust between communities and providers,” she said.

Access Lack of Health Literacy a Barrier to Grasping COVID-19


SDOH Affect Patient Health Literacy, Knowledge About COVID-19

June 25, 2020 (PatientEngagementHIT)

Patient health literacy and knowledge about the COVID-19 pandemic falls along sociodemographic lines, further evidence of the fact that the social determinants of health (SDOH) dictate an individual’s ability to be and stay healthy, according to new research from the Harvard Kennedy School.

More specifically, individual knowledge about COVID-19 and health behaviors were dependent upon individual race, sex, and age.

Black people, males, and individuals younger than age 55 were less likely to know how the novel coronavirus spreads and the key symptoms of the disease.

Additionally, individuals in those populations were less likely to engage in key healthy behaviors known to prevent COVID-19 spread, including regular handwashing and adherence to stay-at-home or better-at-home orders, the researchers found.

Access SDOH Affect Patient Health Literacy, Knowledge About COVID-19


COVID-19 Misinformation Turns Attention to Public Health Messaging

June 9, 2020 (PatientEngagementHIT)

CDC data showed that misinformation about disinfectants and COVID-19 spread to nearly one-third of adults. This outlines a need to target public health messaging.

Access COVID-19 Misinformation Turns Attention to Public Health Messaging


Health Literacy and Outcomes Among Patients With Heart Failure

June, 2020 (JACC)

[Journal Article] The purpose of this study was to determine if health literacy is associated with mortality, hospitalizations, or emergency department (ED) visits among patients living with heart failure (HF). Growing evidence suggests an association between health literacy and health-related outcomes in patients with HF.

Access Health Literacy and Outcomes Among Patients With Heart Failure


Lack of Health Literacy Linked to Poor Outcomes Among Patients With Heart Failure

May 28, 2020 (AJMC)

Heart failure is a complicated disease to manage, requiring coordination of several outcomes-related measurements: weight, blood pressure, glycemic index, and medication and diet adherence, as well as exercise and weight loss on occasion. Does patient knowledge of these measures—their health literacy—affect their health outcomes, and if so, to what extent?

Access Lack of Health Literacy Linked to Poor Outcomes Among Patients With Heart Failure


Heart failure patients with limited health literacy may have higher risk of death

May 25, 2020 (AAAS)

Patients with heart failure who experience low health literacy are at an increased risk of hospitalization and mortality. This finding has significant clinical and public health implications and suggests that assessing and intervening upon an individual’s understanding of their own health could improve heart failure outcomes, according to research published in JACC: Heart Failure.

Access Heart failure patients with limited health literacy may have higher risk of death


The Association of Health Literacy Domains With Hospitalizations and Mortality

May 13, 2020 (AJMC)

[Journal Article] A total of 470 community-dwelling veterans underwent evaluations of health literacy, numeracy, and graph literacy with validated instruments in 2012 and were followed until 2018. At the end of follow-up, the associations with all-cause hospitalizations and mortality were determined with the Andersen-Gill model and Cox regression multivariate analysis, respectively.

There were no associations of health literacy, numeracy, or graph literacy with all-cause hospitalization or mortality after multivariate adjustment. In subgroup analysis, subjective numeracy was associated with hospitalizations in African Americans. Higher objective and subjective numeracy were associated with future hospitalizations only for those with a history of hospitalization. Higher graph literacy was associated with lower mortality in those with a history of hospitalization.

Access The Association of Health Literacy Domains With Hospitalizations and Mortality


When you break down barriers to care, you build trust

May 11, 2020 (Nurse.com)

Barriers to care can have a huge impact on patients’ trust in their healthcare teams and on their recovery.

But nurses help eliminate barriers to care by, for instance, assisting a patient who speaks a different language or helping patients gain a better understanding of their treatment plan.

In doing so, nurses are preventing re-hospitalizations and improving health outcomes.

So, what does it take to break down barriers to care?

You can read the complete article When you break down barriers to care, you build trust.


We Have A Health Literacy Problem, And It’s Time To Face It Head-On

May 6, 2020 (Forbes)

Nearly half of all Europeans have a “problematic” or worse level of health literacy. Only 12% of people in the U.S. have “proficient” health literacy, and 59% of adult Australians suffer from inadequate knowledge around their health.

Based on the populations of these three regions alone, a large swath of people are unable to make good decisions around their health. They don’t seek care when they need it, and they can’t live healthy lifestyles. Some will be susceptible to misinformation and fraud.

It’s long been a problem desperately in need of addressing. But the outbreak of COVID-19 has exposed what health illiteracy looks like at its worst.

You can read the complete article We Have A Health Literacy Problem, And It’s Time To Face It Head-On.


IHLA Statement to the WHO on health literacy as an essential life-saving strategy during the pandemic

May, 2020 (International Health Literacy Association)

Throughout the course of the COVID-19 pandemic, health literacy has manifested itself as an essentiallife-saving determinant of health and of healthy behavior. COVID-19has given rise to the COVID-19 infodemic spreading dangerousmisinformation. Inaccurate information underminesthe efforts of governments, WHO,and public health authorities to contain the spread of COVID-19. Citizens and governmentsand other official agenciesare dependent on health literacy to make the best use of availableinformation. The epidemiological curve flattenswhen people can find, understand, judge and useevidence-based information regarding the risk of contractingthe virus and of effective prevention, such as handwashing, social distancing, and wearing masks.

Access IHLA Statement to the WHO on health literacy as an essential life-saving strategy during the pandemic


Real-World Responses in Real Time : COVID-19 Information Needs to Consider Literacy Gaps

April 30, 2020 (Inside IES Research)

During the COVID-19 pandemic, when people have a heightened need for information, literacy barriers can be life threatening. In the United States, roughly 20 percent of adults read at the lowest level, with another 33 percent still below proficiency. Thus, many may be struggling to understand written guidance on COVID-19.

IES researchers at the Center for the Study of Adult Literacy (R305C120001 and R305H180061) and their associated Adult Literacy Research Center at Georgia State University are working to address the needs of adults with literacy skill gaps. Dr. Meredith Larson spoke to Dr. Daphne Greenberg and Dr. Iris Feinberg about their work in this area.

Real-World Responses in Real Time : COVID-19 Information Needs to Consider Literacy Gaps


Coronavirus (COVID-19) Resources

April, 2020 (Center for Health Literacy Solutions)

Sorting through the tons of Coronavirus (COVID-19) resources can be time-consuming. To help, we have put together a collection of resources that explain things in plain language and that help to break down this complex topic. We update the collection frequently so please keep checking back.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Resources


COVID-19: health literacy is an underestimated problem

April 14, 2020 (The Lancet Public Health)

Rapid development of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) into a pandemic has called for people to acquire and apply health information, and adapt their behaviour at a fast pace. Health communication intended to educate people about the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) and how to avoid getting or spreading the infection has become widely available. Most valuable information is created in an easy-to-understand manner that offers simple and practical solutions, such as washing hands, maintaining physical distance, and where to find information about the latest recommendations, and advice. Unfortunately, there is also complex, contradictory, and false information. Similarly, individuals are considered able to acquire, understand, and use this information in a sound and ethical manner—ie, to be health literate.

Access COVID-19: health literacy is an underestimated problem.


Coronavirus Center – Lifeology

April, 2020 (Lifeology )

Lifeology is a platform that brings together scientists, artists, writers and broader audiences in the creation of educational content including mobile-friendly Lifeology mini-courses that can reach anyone.

Groundbreaking science is increasingly collaborative and interdisciplinary. The same is true for science communication (or scicomm, as we like to call it). By working with artists and writers here at Lifeology.io, scientists can better communicate their work with relevance to society and people’s daily lives.

Go to Coronavirus Center – Lifeology


AI Steps Up to Fight COVID-19 with New Digital Human Health Advisor

April 7, 2020 (Directions Magazine)

United States and New Zealand based digital human company UneeQ, has launched a free COVID-19 health advisor designed to educate and help prevent the spread of misinformation, particularly among those with limited healthcare and medical literacy. According to the Center for Health Care Strategies, roughly 90 million Americans have low health literacy, including the elderly population that is most vulnerable to the COVID-19 outbreak.

Go to AI Steps Up to Fight COVID-19 with New Digital Human Health Advisor.


How Much Do Words Matter When We Talk to Our Patients?

April 3, 2020 (Haymarket Media, Inc.)

As a physician assistant (PA) who has been practicing for more than 20 years, a big part of my focus has been on health literacy, a subject that is completely different from literacy: Literacy is the ability to read and understand written/spoken language, whereas health literacy is the ability to understand what providers are talking about. Even with my strong commitment to making my communication meaningful and relevant to my patients, no matter their level of education, I often fail.

Access the article How Much Do Words Matter When We Talk to Our Patients?.


Patient Advocate Foundation Deploys a Range of Safety Net Services to Assist Patients and Families Impacted By COVID-19

April 1, 2020 (Patient Advocate Foundation)

Hampton, VA, April 01, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Patient Advocate Foundation (PAF), a national nonprofit organization that provides case management services, education, and financial aid to patients with chronic, debilitating and life-threatening diseases, is poised to deliver committed, expert, and expeditious help to patients and families who are facing health and financial impacts as a result of the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19). As a leader in the delivery of one-on-one interventions to our nation’s most vulnerable patient populations, PAF is honored to join the fight against COVID-19, urgently applying our skills and resources to the service of those impacted by this pandemic.

Read more Patient Advocate Foundation Deploys a Range of Safety Net Services to Assist Patients and Families Impacted By COVID-19.


COVID-19: where to find quality information

April, 2020 (IUHPE)

The dissemination of quality, timely and understandable information is key in slowing down transmission and avoiding overburdening the healthcare system. We have been supporting dissemination of evidence-based messaging on COVID-19 by trusted sources… To further IUHPE contribution to this collective effort, we are compiling a list of resources from key sources, IUHPE institutional members, Global Working Groups and Networks, academic publishers as well as collections of resources. We will be updating this page as new resources are created, or we learn about them.

You can access the materials via COVID-19: where to find quality information.


Living with a Chronic, Life-Threatening or Disabling Disease OR Diagnosed with COVID During the Coronavirus Pandemic

April, 2020 (Patient Advocate Foundation)

As the coronavirus spreads across the country, PAF wants to make sure you have answers and resources to support you during this uncertain and stressful time. If you are experiencing challenges accessing care or have affordability concerns we are here to help.

You can access the materials via Living with a Chronic, Life-Threatening or Disabling Disease OR Diagnosed with COVID During the Coronavirus Pandemic.


COVID-19 Fact Sheets – Available in 34 Languages

March, 2020 (Harvard Health Publishing)

The COVID-19 Health Literacy Project has created and translated accessible COVID-19 information into different languages to help all patients know when, and how, to seek care. The materials are created in collaboration with Harvard Health Publishing. Find the language you need at COVID-19 Fact Sheets – Available in 34 Languages.


Coronavirus/COVID-19 – Frequently Asked Questions (Printable Resource)

March, 2020 (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

The CDC recently published this easy-to-read printable FAQ flyer on COVID-19. You can find more print resources by the CDC on the Coronavirus Coronavirus/COVID-19 – Frequently Asked Questions (Printable Resource).

For up-to-date information about COVID-19, visit https://coronavirus.gov


COVID-19: A Guide to Good Practice on Keeping People Well Informed

March 19, 2020 (SA People News)

The coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is spreading across the world. For those who catch it, the vast majority will experience mild symptoms, but for a few, it can cause severe disease and death. Some groups – like older people and those with pre-existing health conditions – are more vulnerable when exposed than others. Read more COVID-19: A Guide to Good Practice on Keeping People Well Informed.


Individual and Organizational Health Literacy: A Key to the Future of Health

March 17, 2020 (National Library of Medicine)

As the Secretary’s Advisory Committee on National Health Promotion and Disease Prevention Objectives for 2030 prepares its new statement for Healthy People 2030, NLM has been asked to review and comment on the definition of health literacy. This request has provided a good opportunity for me to consider how NLM facilitates health literacy — but more about that in a minute. Read more Individual and Organizational Health Literacy: A Key to the Future of Health.


COVID-19 Graphic Medicine

March, 2020 (Center for Disease Control and Prevention)

Using comics, or infographics, is an effective way to convey health information to the public in a way that is engaging and simple. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently published 10 comics about COVID-19. Most are available in multiple languages and cover topics like basic COVID facts, proper handwashing, and what to do if you’re sick. You can access the free print resources .


Self-reported Health Literacy Among North Carolina Adults and Associations With Health Status and Chronic Health Conditions

Mar-Apr 2020 (PubMed)

Low health literacy is a recognized contributor to health disparities. Significant proportions of the adult population, especially the underserved, have low health literacy. The purpose of this study was to examine health literacy and its associations with health status and chronic health conditions among North Carolina adults
You can read more Self-reported Health Literacy Among North Carolina Adults and Associations With Health Status and Chronic Health Conditions.


Organized dentistry supports oral health literacy

March 4, 2020 (American Dental Association)

In a Feb. 26 letter to Reps. Tony Cárdenas, D-Calif., and Gus Bilirakis, R-Fla., the coalition — led by the Academy of General Dentistry — thanked the lawmakers for introducing HR 4678, the Oral Health Literacy and Awareness Act. The bill authorizes the Health Resources and Services Administration to develop a 5-year evidence-based oral health literacy campaign across the agency’s relevant programs.
You can read more Organized dentistry supports oral health literacy.


The Association Between Cancer Care Coordination and Quality of Life Is Stronger for Breast Cancer Patients With Lower Health Literacy: A Greater Plains Collaborative Study

February, 2020 (National Center for Biotechnology Information)

Health literacy (HL) and cancer care coordination (CCC) were examined for their relationship to quality of life (QOL) among breast cancer survivors. CCC was hypothesized to have a stronger relationship to QOL for women with lower HL.. The association between CCC and later QOL is strongest for people who have lower HL. Prioritizing care coordination for patients with lower health literacy may be an effective strategy in a setting of limited resources.

[Journal Article]

You can read more The Association Between Cancer Care Coordination and Quality of Life Is Stronger for Breast Cancer Patients With Lower Health Literacy: A Greater Plains Collaborative Study.


Empirically Tested Health Literacy Frameworks

February 13, 2020 (Healio)

Health literacy is a significant determinant of health behaviors, but the pathways through which health literacy influences health behaviors are not completely clear nor consistent. The purpose of this systematic review is to critically appraise studies that have empirically tested the potential pathways linking health literacy to health behavior.

[Journal Article]

You can read more Empirically Tested Health Literacy Frameworks.


Study: Health literacy leads to better outcomes for baby and mom

February 8, 2020 (Augusta Chronicle)

Women who understand the health information they are provided and who give birth in a hospital, have better outcomes, new research shows.

You can read more Study: Health literacy leads to better outcomes for baby and mom.


Helping patients become health literate

January 29, 2020 (Medical Economics)

Due to the biology of aging, the potential presence of a life-limiting chronic illness and individuals who have completed a high school education or less, there is ample opportunity for widespread patient misunderstanding of their disease, their medication, how to self-manage their condition and how to appropriately access medical services.

You can read more Helping patients become health literate.


Nursing Students ‘Teach Back’ to Promote Health Literacy

December 11, 2019 (Georgia State University)

CLARKSTON, Ga.—It’s Saturday morning, and the waiting room of Grace Village Medical Clinic is packed. Many of the patients are originally from Burundi, Pakistan and Burma, while others are natives of the United States. Some are elderly, others come with children in tow. All live below the poverty line.

The free clinic has served this community’s poor, predominantly refugee population for six years. Staffed by medical professionals who volunteer their time, and organized by members of Snellville’s Grace Fellowship Church, it is now one of the newest clinical sites for nursing students from Georgia State University’s Perimeter College.

You can read more Nursing Students ‘Teach Back’ to Promote Health Literacy.


Health Literacy 2.0: Integrating Patient Health Literacy Screening with Universal Precautions

December 6, 2019 (Healio)

The idea of screening patients for low health literacy has had a polarizing effect in the health literacy community… Given recent changes in health care delivery models, we propose that the time has come to consider a hybrid approach that employs both the foundation of universal precautions for all patients, as well as identification of those for whom universal precautions alone may not suffice, due to extreme needs…This integrated approach is well aligned with recent innovation in the health care landscape and should be considered by researchers, providers, and policymakers.
[Journal Article]

You can read more Health Literacy 2.0: Integrating Patient Health Literacy Screening with Universal Precautions.


10 Minutes to Better Patient Communication: Some more health literacy basics

November 20, 2019 (Health Communication Partners)

There’s exciting things happening in the health literacy field. As big as health literacy has become, the term can still cause some confusion. And for good reason! In this episode you’ll learn some not-so-basic basics about health literacy, and some suggestions to help you with health literacy in your context.

You can read more 10 Minutes to Better Patient Communication: Some more health literacy basics.


The Neighborhood Atlas—Free Social Determinants of Health Data for All!

November 20, 2019 (National Institutes of Health)

At NIA, we know that achieving and maintaining good health is about more than biology. The neighborhoods where we live, work, play, worship and grow older play significant roles: Income levels, education, housing quality, and employment, or lack thereof, are all factors.

You can read more The Neighborhood Atlas—Free Social Determinants of Health Data for All!.


Assessing Patient Health Literacy for Improved Outcomes, Safety

November 19, 2019 (Xtelligent Healthcare Media)

As healthcare increasingly moves from volume to value, it’s becoming imperative for providers to understand more than what patients present at their yearly checkups…Environmental factors, such as where a patient lives and works, as well as an individual’s access to nutritious food and other resources, can impact patient health even more than clinical elements.

Patient health literacy, or a patient’s understanding of her health conditions and possible treatments, is a critical, non-medical aspect of improving patient safety and outcomes.

You can read more Assessing Patient Health Literacy for Improved Outcomes, Safety.


Assessing Patient Health Literacy for Improved Outcomes, Safety

November 19, 2019 (Xtelligent Healthcare Media)

As healthcare increasingly moves from volume to value, it’s becoming imperative for providers to understand more than what patients present at their yearly checkups…Environmental factors, such as where a patient lives and works, as well as an individual’s access to nutritious food and other resources, can impact patient health even more than clinical elements.

Patient health literacy, or a patient’s understanding of her health conditions and possible treatments, is a critical, non-medical aspect of improving patient safety and outcomes.

You can read more Assessing Patient Health Literacy for Improved Outcomes, Safety.


2019 Federal Report Card

2019 (Center For Plain Language)

In 2010, Congress passed the Plain Writing Act to ensure that people can understand the information they receive from federal agencies. Since 2012, the Center for Plain Language has issued a yearly report card evaluating how well agencies follow this law.

This year, we evaluated 21 Executive Branch agencies, including all 15 cabinet-level departments. Agencies earned grades between A and F  for both organizational compliance, covering the staffing, training, and annual reporting required by law, and writing, focusing on how easy it is to find, understand, and use information the public needs.

You can read more 2019 Federal Report Card.


Patient Health Literacy Limited Ahead of Open Enrollment Season

November 1, 2019 (PatientEngagementHIT.com)

Lacking health literacy skills are keeping over 80 percent of patients fully understanding their health insurance benefits before open enrollment.

 Limited health literacy keeps nearly one-quarter of patients from accessing medical care, for fear that their health payers will not cover certain services, according to new survey data from Policygenius.

You can read the complete article Patient Health Literacy Limited Ahead of Open Enrollment Season.


The Health literacy of hospitalized trauma patients: We should be screening for deficiencies

November, 2019 (PubMed)

[Journal Article] Although the impact of health literacy (HL) on trauma patient outcomes remains unclear, recent studies have demonstrated that trauma patients with deficient HL have poor understanding of their injuries, are less likely to comply with follow-up, and are relatively less satisfied with physician communication. In this study, we sought to determine if HL deficiency was associated with comprehension of discharge instructions.

Access The health literacy of hospitalized trauma patients: We should be screening for deficiencies


HHS Leaders Highlight the Importance of Health Literacy

October 31, 2019 (health.gov)

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is fortunate to have an active health literacy workgroup that represents over a dozen agencies. Its mission is to advance health literacy across our department… In celebration of Health Literacy Month, the workgroup collected insights from leaders across HHS to highlight how addressing health literacy is central to achieving departmental and agency goals, and how HHS has contributed to health literacy improvement.

You can read the complete article HHS Leaders Highlight the Importance of Health Literacy.


Consumers are confused about healthcare: Here’s how physicians can help

October 22, 2019 (Medical Economics)

Few issues are more confusing to Americans than ever shifting healthcare laws. In recent years, they’ve seen the Affordable Care Act pass and have heard countless debates about its merits. This constant uncertainty surrounding healthcare in the United States leaves most patients at a loss on a topic vital to their well-being.

You can read the complete article Consumers are confused about healthcare: Here’s how physicians can help.


In a review of 337,000 patient cases, this was the No. 1 most common preventable medical error

October 20, 2019 (MarketWatch)

Preventable medical harm is still far too common, but experts say patients can take steps to protect themselves.

One in 20 patients (6%) is impacted by preventable medical errors, according to a recent study published in the peer-reviewed journal BMJ. What’s more, about 12% of preventable patient harm results in “prolonged, permanent disability” or even death.

You can read the complete article In a review of 337,000 patient cases, this was the No. 1 most common preventable medical error.


Does Health Literacy Mediate the Relationship Between Socioeconomic Status and Health Disparities? Integrative Review

October, 2019 (PubMed)

While socioeconomic disparities are among the most fundamental causes of health disparities, socioeconomic status (SES) does not impact health directly. One of the potential mediating factors that link SES and health is health literacy (HL). Yet although HL can be considered a modifiable risk factor of socioeconomic disparities in health, the relationship between SES, HL and health disparities is not well understood. This study reviewed the evidence regarding the mediating role of HL in the relationship between socioeconomic and health disparities.

Access Does Health Literacy Mediate the Relationship Between Socioeconomic Status and Health Disparities? Integrative Review


Guidance & Tools

October, 2019 (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

The guidance and tools on this page by the CDC can help make your health information accurate, accessible, and actionable. Topics include Communication Guidance, Material Assessment Tools, Plain Language Materials & Resources, and Web Communication Guidance

You can access the complete Guidance & Tools.


The Impact of Health Literacy on Health Outcomes in Individuals With Chronic Pain: A Cross-Sectional Study

September, 2019 (National Center for Biotechnology Information)

[Journal Article]

Objective: To establish if health literacy (HL) is linked to poorer outcomes and behaviors in patients with chronic pain.
Design: A prospective cross-sectional observational study.
Setting: Multidisciplinary out-patient pain clinics in three university teaching hospitals.
Patients: New patients (n=131) referred to the pain clinic with a history of chronic pain (> 12 weeks).
Conclusion: Inadequate HL is prevalent in chronic pain patients, and may impact on the development of certain characteristics necessary for effective self-management.

You can read the full journal article The Impact of Health Literacy on Health Outcomes in Individuals With Chronic Pain: A Cross-Sectional Study.


Implementation of an organisation-wide health literacy approach to improve the understandability and actionability of patient information and education materials: A pre-post effectiveness study

September, 2019 (PubMed.gov)

Limited examples exist globally of coordinated, organisation-wide health literacy approaches to systematically improve the understandability and actionability of patient health information. Even fewer have been formally evaluated. The aim of this study was to use the Patient Education Materials Assessment Tool (PEMAT) to evaluate the effectiveness of an organisation-wide, evidence-based approach to improve the understandability and actionability of patient information materials in regional health service in New South Wales, Australia.

Access Implementation of an organisation-wide health literacy approach to improve the understandability and actionability of patient information and education materials: A pre-post effectiveness study


Who is a Health Literacy Hero?

September, 2019 (Health Literacy Month 2019)

Health Literacy Heroes are individuals, teams, and organizations who identify health literacy problems and act to solve them. Being a hero, enables you to share and inform other health literacy professionals of your ideas, and your influence. Together we have superpowers!

You can read the full article Who is a Health Literacy Hero?.


Doctors’ words can be wounding — or healing

September 17, 2019 (The Philadelphia Inquirer)

As I listened intently to a resident physician presenting the case of a little girl with asthma, I could hear the young doctor’s frustration. Her 7-year-old patient “was hospitalized once again,” she said with an audible sigh, probably because of the mother’s “noncompliance” with her daughter’s medication regimen.

You can read the full announcement Doctors’ words can be wounding — or healing.


The Link Between Health Literacy & Cancer Communication

August 20, 2019 (ONCOLOGY TIMES)

In an era of increasingly complex advances in oncology, how can health professionals help cancer patients with low health literacy better understand their diagnoses and treatment options? In an effort to improve cancer communication strategies with patients, the National Cancer Policy Forum (NCPF) of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NAS) convened a meeting of invited speakers in Washington, D.C. The event was held in collaboration with the NAS Roundtable on Health Literacy.

You can read the full article The Link Between Health Literacy & Cancer Communication.


A Missed Opportunity: Universal School-Based Mental Health Literacy Programs

August, 2019 (Springer Nature)

[Journal Article] The needs of our communities to identify, treat, and facilitate long-term care of mental health conditions have grown exponentially. In order to ensure the well-being of patients and families, a multifaceted population-health approach is warranted to create a culture of mental health literacy, and a potentially valuable target of these interventions is embedded within our school systems. This article will seek to highlight the utility of universal school-based mental health programs by first providing a personal vignette from the authors that serves as an archetype of the present limitations in community mental health literacy and the consequences of stigma on help-seeking behaviors.

You can read the full journal article A Missed Opportunity: Universal School-Based Mental Health Literacy Programs.


Patient-Provider Communication: Shared Decision-Making Enhances Care

August 06, 2019 (Specialty Pharmacy Times)

Effective patient-provider communication results in optimum patient outcomes and includes shared decision-making between the patient and provider, weighing the pros and cons of treatment, and making an informed decision as a result. As a 24-year survivor of terminal leukemia, I favor this type of mutual respect regardless of the provider’s specialty or role. From my experiences with providers, shared decision-making, or patient centeredness, provides more empowerment for the patient and fosters trust and confidence in the health care provider.

You can read the full article Patient-Provider Communication: Shared Decision-Making Enhances Care.


Organizational Health Literacy: Quality Improvement Measures with Expert Consensus

July 3, 2019 (Healio.com)

The health care system is complex. Health care organizations can make things easier for patients by making changes to improve communication and to help patients find their way around, become engaged in the health care process, and manage their health.

We sought to identify and evaluate existing OHL-related QI measures. To complement prior efforts to develop measures based on patient-reported data, we sought to identify measures computed from clinical, administrative, QI, or staff-reported data. Our goal was to develop a set of measures that experts agree are valuable for informing OHL-related QI activities. We identify 22 measures that organizations can use to monitor their efforts to improve communication with and support for patients.

You can read the full article Organizational Health Literacy: Quality Improvement Measures with Expert Consensus.


Health Literacy Positively Associated With Health-Related QOL in Patients With COPD

July 2, 2019 (AJMC)

Increased health literacy is associated with positive health-related quality of life (HRQOL) outcomes in chronic obstruction pulmonary disease (COPD) patients, according to a new study published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research.

“Although previous research has shown a relatively high prevalence of low health literacy among individuals living with COPD, little attention has been directed at exploring the cognitive and health literacy- related skills that can influence patients HRQoL… Findings from this study indicated that health literacy, but not eHealth literacy, was positively associated with generic HRQOL.”

You can read the full article Health Literacy Positively Associated With Health-Related QOL in Patients With COPD.


Actual and perceived patient health literacy: How accurate are residents’ predictions?

July 1, 2019 (SAGE Journals)

[Journal Article] Health literacy has repeatedly been shown to be associated with a multitude of negative health outcomes. Previous research has shown that patient health literacy levels are hard to predict by physicians and that assessment tools used to measure health literacy may be outdated or lacking. The purpose of this study is to replicate and extend the findings of previous research by examining residents’ ability to predict health literacy levels in patients and to use a newer validated measure of health literacy.

You can read the full journal article Actual and perceived patient health literacy: How accurate are residents’ predictions?.


Health-care providers join social media to dispel misconceptions, offer inspiration

June 18, 2019 (The Columbus Dispatch)

Looking for a tool to combat online misinformation and misconceptions he heard from patients, Dr. Dave Stukus turned to relatives for advice.

His brother-in-law suggested Twitter.

Though unfamiliar with the social medium, Stukus took a leap of faith and joined Twitter in 2013, meeting many families where they were going for health information.

“People have done a good job of documenting that not only are people going online for this information but also the amount of bad information out there,” said Stukus, a pediatric allergy and asthma specialist at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus. “There is a lot of snake oil being sold online.”

You can read the full article Health-care providers join social media to dispel misconceptions, offer inspiration.


Social determinants of health: What medical students need to know

June 14, 2019 (American Medical Association)

Where your patients were born, where they work, play and grow older all have a big impact on what their health outcomes will be, with research showing that a person’s overall health is mostly driven by social, economic and environmental factors.

You can read the full article Social determinants of health: What medical students need to know.


Never Say ‘Die’: Why So Many Doctors Won’t Break Bad News

June 12, 2019 (Kaiser Health News)

Dr. Ron Naito, an internist in Portland, Ore., was diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer in August 2018. His doctor wouldn’t confirm the terminal diagnosis, even though Naito read the test results and understood what they meant. (Michael Hanson for KHN)

You can read the full article Never Say ‘Die’: Why So Many Doctors Won’t Break Bad News.


Solicitation for Written Comments on an Updated Health Literacy Definition for Healthy People 2030

June 4, 2019 (Office of the Federal Register)

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) provides notice of a request for comments about the proposed update to the definition of health literacy. The Secretary’s Advisory Committee on National Health Promotion and Disease Prevention Objectives for Healthy People 2030 used the following working definition: “Health literacy occurs when a society provides accurate health information and services that people can easily find, understand, and use to inform their decisions and actions.”

You can read the full announcement Solicitation for Written Comments on an Updated Health Literacy Definition for Healthy People 2030.


New technologies, new disparities: The intersection of electronic health and digital health literacy

May 28, 2019 (International Journal of Cardiology)

Mobile health, or mHealth, is the implementation of digital health services with mobile and wearable devices, and has ample potential to enhance self-management of chronic conditions, especially cardiovascular risk factors… It remains ambiguous, however, whether such technologies can improve cardiovascular outcomes. More importantly, mHealth carries the additional challenge of digital health literacy, which demands particular skills complementary to general and health literacy. Populations at risk for limited health literacy are similarly vulnerable to having challenges with digital health literacy. We identify such challenges and outline solutions to improve access to digital health services and their use for individuals with limited digital health literacy. We present an 18-point “Digital Universal Precautions” as a mandate for health care organizations committed towards addressing and facilitating eHealth literacy.

Access New technologies, new disparities: The intersection of electronic health and digital health literacy


Health literacy, multimorbidity, and patient-perceived treatment burden in individuals with cardiovascular disease. A Danish population-based study

May 15, 2019 (Patient Education and Counseling)

[Journal Article] The aim was to investigate the association between: 1) multimorbidity and high treatment burden 2) health literacy and high treatment burden, and 3) the interaction between multimorbidity and health literacy in relation to high treatment burden.

The study showed that multimorbid individuals with cardiovascular disease were more likely to experience a high treatment burden than individuals with cardiovascular disease only (2+ additional conditions OR 4.16 [2.80-6.18]). Also, individuals with difficulties in understanding health information were more likely to report a high treatment burden than individuals who found it easy to understand information about health (OR 9.97 [6.23-15.95]). Finally, individuals with multimorbidity and difficulties in understanding health information had markedly higher odds of experiencing a high treatment burden.

Access Health literacy, multimorbidity, and patient-perceived treatment burden in individuals with cardiovascular disease. A Danish population-based study


Screening Patients Who Speak Spanish for Low Health Literacy

April, 2019 (HLRP)

[Journal Article] Inadequate health literacy is a national health problem that affects about 90 million people from all racial and ethnic groups in the United States. Conceptual and empirical models of health literacy position language as one of the most significant contributors to health literacy.

Access Screening Patients Who Speak Spanish for Low Health Literacy


A Pilot Project to Increase Health Literacy Among Youth From Seasonal Farmworker Families in Rural Eastern North Carolina: A Qualitative Exploration of Implementation and Impact

April, 2019 (J Med Libr Assoc.)

[Journal Article] There are substantial health inequalities for seasonal agricultural workers and their families in the United States. One identified inequality is in health literacy. The authors explored the implementation and impact of connecting youth from seasonal farmworker families who participated in a leadership and college pipeline program with Internet access by providing a tablet with a paid cellular data plan and university library-based health literacy training.

You can read the full journal article A Pilot Project to Increase Health Literacy Among Youth From Seasonal Farmworker Families in Rural Eastern North Carolina: A Qualitative Exploration of Implementation and Impact.


Health Literacy, Sociodemographic Factors, and Cognitive Training in the Active Study of Older Adults

April, 2019 (Int J Geriatr Psychiatry.)

[Journal Article] Health literacy is critical for understanding information from health-care providers and correct use of medications and includes the capacity to filter other information in navigating health care systems. Older adults with low health literacy exhibit more chronic health conditions, worse physical functioning, and poorer mental health. This study examined the relationship between sociodemographic variables and health literacy, and the impact of cognitive training on change in health literacy over 10 years in older adults.

You can read the full journal article Health Literacy, Sociodemographic Factors, and Cognitive Training in the Active Study of Older Adults.


The Need for Cultural Competency and Healthcare Literacy With Refugees

February, 2019 (J Natl Med Assoc.)

[Journal Article] In order to best provide appropriate healthcare to individuals of a variety of ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds, a healthcare provider should be aware of the variables that affect not only an individual’s access to healthcare, but variables that may hinder the patient from navigating the healthcare system effectively. Refugees faces diverse and extensive challenges as they adjust to living in the United States. Collaboration and communication; as well as frequent reassessment of that communication is essential to culturally appropriate care.

You can read the full journal article The Need for Cultural Competency and Healthcare Literacy With Refugees.


Health Literacy in Substance Use Disorder Treatment: A Latent Profile Analysis

January, 2019 (PubMed)

[Journal Article] Health literacy refers to the degree to which people can access and understand health information, as well as communicate their health needs to service providers. Whilst health literacy is increasingly being examined within general community samples, there is limited research focused on substance use disorders where the need for health literacy is likely to be high. The aim of this study was to examine the health literacy profiles of people attending substance use disorder treatment and to examine how these profiles were related to measures of quality of life, mental health, and physical health.

Access Health Literacy in Substance Use Disorder Treatment: A Latent Profile Analysis


Health Literacy and Clear Bedside Communication: A Curricular Intervention for Internal Medicine Physicians and Medicine Nurses

January 18, 2019 (AAMC)

[Journal Article] Communication remains the backbone of patient-provider relationships, and many health outcomes have been directly attributed to both effective and ineffective communication. We developed an educational intervention to improve bedside communication and increase use of health literacy principles, in part as a response to suboptimal inpatient satisfaction scores.

A brief, low-cost curricular intervention focusing on clear communication skills and health literacy principles resulted in significant improvements in knowledge and attitudes of attending physicians and was readily incorporated by resident physicians and nurses. This curriculum can be easily implemented in a variety of settings to improve bedside patient-physician communication.

Access Health Literacy and Clear Bedside Communication: A Curricular Intervention for Internal Medicine Physicians and Medicine Nurses.


Limited Health Literacy Is Associated With Worse Patient-Reported Outcomes in Inflammatory Bowel Disease

January 1, 2019 (Inflamm Bowel Dis.)

[Journal Article]

Background: Patients with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) face complex health tasks and decisions. Limited health literacy is a risk factor for poor health outcomes, but this has not been examined in IBD. This study aims to assess the role of health literacy for patients with IBD.

Conclusions: Limited health literacy is associated with lower ratings of subjective health and depression in IBD and more symptoms of active disease in patients with Crohn’s disease.

You can read the full journal article Limited Health Literacy Is Associated With Worse Patient-Reported Outcomes in Inflammatory Bowel Disease.


Health Literacy Skills of U.S. Adults

Sep-Oct 2007 (PubMed)

Adults without a high school diploma or GED, with health-related restrictions, with limited access to resources, who are members of minority population groups, and who are immigrants – have lower health literacy skills than do others. The distribution of health literacy is not independent of general literacy skills at population or subpopulation levels.
Access Health Literacy Skills of U.S. Adults


 

Last modified: 08/10/20