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.

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 here.

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. You can access the materials here.

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 here.

For up-to-date information about COVID-19, visit

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 here.

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 here.

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 here.

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 here.

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 here.

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 here.

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 here.

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 here.

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 here.

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 here.

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 here.

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 here.

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 here.

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 here.

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 here.

Patient Health Literacy Limited Ahead of Open Enrollment Season

November 1, 2019 (

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 here.

HHS Leaders Highlight the Importance of Health Literacy

October 31, 2019 (

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 here.

HHS Leaders Highlight the Importance of Health Literacy

October 31, 2019 (

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 here.

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 here.

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 here.

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 guide here.

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 behaviours 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 here.

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 here.

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 here.

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 here.

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 here.

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 here.

Organizational Health Literacy: Quality Improvement Measures with Expert Consensus

July 3, 2019 (

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 here.

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 here.

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 here.

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 here.

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 here.

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 here.

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 here.

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 here.

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 here.

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 here.

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 here.


Last modified: 04/02/20