Health Literacy @ UNC

UNC Belltower

At Carolina, we are dedicated to help improve health outcomes by promoting health literacy awareness and skill development to both health care providers and consumers. On this page you will find information about health literacy activities that support our mission on campus and beyond.

To contact the Health Literacy Team at UNC, see our “Contact Us” page.

Engaging for Health in Rural and Underserved North Carolina Communities

In spring 2019 a team of four librarians at UNC’s Health Sciences Library (HSL) including Nandita Mani, Michelle Cawley, Terri Ottosen, and Megan Fratta, received an All of Us Community Engagement Project Award from the Network of the National Library of Medicine (NNLM) to conduct a health literacy outreach project to reach rural and underserved communities in North Carolina. The aims of the project were to:

NNLM Graphic Map

Map of library branches and counties where  workshops were held

  • Train public library staff on providing consumer health information services in their communities and build their capacity to make use of National Library of Medicine resources to improve health outcomes and reduce health disparities.
  • Enable public library staff to offer the Engage for Health program at their libraries. This program empowers patients to ask questions of their doctors, take an active role in their healthcare, and enable them to better communicate with their healthcare providers in order to make informed decisions.

Read more

Using data from the National Assessment of Adult Literacy, the team identified five libraries in areas of the state with low health literacy levels to partner with. We led two-part train-the-trainer sessions at five libraries. The first part of the training was designed to increase library staff capacity and knowledge around health literacy and consumer health information resources. We introduced two consumer health information resources: and, both of which are excellent starting points for health information searches.In part two, we introduced library staff to the “Engage for Health” program, which is intended to be presented to community members to encourage them to engage in conversation with their health care providers. It covers the importance of asking questions, includes a role play script to practice asking questions, and then introduces several trustworthy health information resources including MedlinePlus. This “program in a box” curriculum is available to download from NNLM’s website and includes a toolkit with presentation slides, speaker notes, role play exercises, pre-post evaluation forms, and promotional materials. Two of the libraries held at least one Engage for Health session prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Through the 5 train-the-trainer sessions, we reached 57 public library staff from 12 public libraries throughout the state. The map provides a geographic representation of the communities that were reached through this grant project. In evaluations, participants commented that the training was informative and helpful, particularly when assisting people with health questions, but also useful for themselves, friends, and family.


Impact Measurement and Visualization

The Impact Measurement and Visualization (IMV) team and librarians at the Health Sciences Library at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC) have partnered with NC Health Literacy to create these data visualizations representing publications by UNC-affiliated researchers on the topic of health literacy. These publications were collected by searching PubMed and Scopus bibliographic databases. The two data visualizations below present collaborations between UNC Schools and the health literacy topics examined within the publications.

Organizational Analysis

Visualization represents collaborations within UNC, regarding the field of health literacy

Visualization represents collaborations within UNC, regarding the field of health literacy (last updated October, 2020).

Topic Analysis

Visualization represents the range of health literacy topics published by researchers at UNC

Visualization represents the range of health literacy topics published by researchers at UNC. The topic words were selected from the Medical Subject Headings (MeSH) terms associated with each of the publications (last updated October, 2020).

Articles by UNC Scholars on Health Literacy

The following are the most recent articles published in PubMed by UNC scholars on topics related to health literacy. To see a complete list, click on the “PubMed Search Results” widget below.

RSS PubMed Search Results

Three ladies looking into the camera

Elise Widman, Doctor of Physical Therapy candidate (middle), Brenda Everett Mitchell, Associate Chair of Department of Allied Health Sciences Office of Student Services and AHEC Operations (left), and Laura Tremaine, Student Services Specialist, Office of Student Services (right).

Allied Health Ambassador Elise Widman Presents on Effectively Translating Health Information for Patients

As an Allied Health Ambassador, Elise Widman presented at the bi-annual “Difference Matters” on the topic of health literacy and what she learned about it through her studies. The focus of the “Difference Matters” events is to apply what students learn in school to real-life scenarios for the benefit of patients. In this particular session, Widman also focused on practical solutions and health literacy resources available on campus and beyond.

Widman is part of the allied health ambassador program. The student ambassadors serve as allied health representatives at various college fairs, school tours and campus events. They are an elite group of students, with strong leadership abilities, a positive attitude about UNC-CH, excellent communication skills, and good academic standing. To be eligible, applicants must be currently enrolled in any division of the Department of Allied Health Sciences with a grade point average meeting the standards of their current program. These students also must exhibit a history of student involvement prior to attending UNC-CH and participate in an interview and ambassador orientation.

Looking for educational opportunities on health literacy? The CDC offers a list of training opportunities on its Find Training page. It also offers a list of training from organizations other than the CDC.

Last modified: 11/04/21