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Current Resources in Health Literacy

The Health Literacy Environment Activity Packet (PDF) First Impressions and Walking Interview.  The exercises in this packet are designed to help hospitals and health center staff members begin to consider some of the characteristics of their workplace that help or hinder a visitor's ability to make his or her way about. 

Healthy People 2020
(web)  Starting in 1990, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has issued a national agenda aimed at improving the health of all Americans over the 10-year span. At the request of HHS, the IOM identified a set of leading health indicators that could be used by Healthy People 2020 and developed a conceptual framework within which the topics, indicators, and objectives would be developed or selected.  The report includes healthy literacy as part of proposed Leading Health Indicators for the nation

Health Literacy for the Public Health Professionals  (web)  The CDC has launched this free training program to help public health professionals respond to the problem of limited health literacy.  This web-based course takes 1.5-2 hours to complete and trainees can earn a variety of continuing education credits. 

Using Principles of Health Literacy to Enhance the Informed Consent Process (PDF)- The language commonly used in consent documents often exceeds the average person's reading level in the U.S. Because of this, many patients do not stop to read their consent form before signing it. By incorporating reader-friendly principles into consent documents, it is more likely that patients will read it, understand it, and actually provide their informed consent.  

Communication Techniques for Patients with Low Health Literacy: A Survey of Physicians, Nurses and Pharmacists (PDF)
Health care providers can improve communications with patients with low health literacy by following certain techniques such as slowing down, using drawings, common language and teach-back techniques and creating a shame-free environment. This article explores the use of these techniques and what HCPs can do to improve patient understanding and care outcomes.

Joint Commission white papers on culture, language family-centered care and literacy (web)
These white papers provide an overview of what health care providers need to know in order to address needs related to culturally and linguistically diverse patient populations, effective communication, cultural competence, and patient-centered care.

America's health literacy: why we need accessible health information (web) An issue brief from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2008.

Improving health literacy for older adults (PDF) Rep. US Department of Health and Social Sciences, 2009.

Making HIPAA privacy notices more readable: (PDF)  Prepared for the Health Resources and Services Administration, in consultation with the Office for Civil Rights, and other offices and agencies within the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, Washington, D.C., and plain language specialists.

The health literacy and plain language resource guide: (PDF)  Created by Health Literacy Innovations, and supported by the AmeriHealth Mercy Family of Companies, 2008.

About the CAHPS® Item Set for Addressing Health Literacy (PDF)  CAHPS® Clinician & Group Survey and Reporting Kit, 2008.

Pfizer principles for clear health communication: (PDF)  A handbook for creating materials that enhance understanding, promote health outcomes. Pfizer Inc., 2004.

Is our pharmacy meeting our patients' needs? A pharmacy health literacy assessment tool user's guide. (PDF)  Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, 2007.

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) "Health Literacy Universal Precautions Toolkit"  (web)  The toolkit is designed to help clinicians implement practice-wide efforts to ensure that information provided to patients is accessible by those with limited health literacy.  It includes a quick start guide, six easy implementation steps, resources to help identify and address areas that need improvement, and an appendix with sample forms, PowerPoint presentations, and worksheets.  Based on the principles of universal precautions, the toolkit outlines specific actions that primary care practices can take to make health information more understandable for all patients.  The toolkit was developed for AHRQ by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. 

Taking Care of Myself: A Guide for When I Leave the Hospital.  (PDF​)  This is an easy-to-read booklet for patients to help them care for themselves when they leave the hospital. This guide provides a way for them to track their medication schedules, upcoming medical appointments, and important phone numbers.  It has cues and blanks for information the patient needs to know to optimize self-care after discharge. It can be used by both hospital staff and patients during the discharge process.

AHRQ Informed Consent Authorization Toolkit for Minimal Risk Research (PDF) This toolkit was designed to facilitate the process of obtaining informed consent and Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) authorization from potential research subjects. This toolkit contains information for people responsible for ensuring that potential research subjects are informed in a manner that is consistent with medical ethics and regulatory guidelines.

AHRQ Researcher is Lead Author of "Attributes of a Health Literate Organization" (PDF)  Participants in the Workgroup on Attributes of a Health Literate Organization of the Institute of Medicine (IOM) Roundtable on Health Literacy have developed a discussion paper that identifies ten attributes of a health literate organization. A health literate organization makes it easier for people to navigate, understand, and use information and services to take care of their health. The brief paper articulates a rationale for these attributes, and identifies the organizations that should use them. There is also a list of resources for organizations interested in taking action. Authors of the paper are: Cindy Brach (AHRQ), Benard Dreyer (New York University University Medication School), Paul Schyve (The Joint Commission) Lyla Hernandez (IOM), Cynthia Baur (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), Andrew Lemerise (IOM), and Ruth Parker (Emory University).

Health Literacy Online: A Guide to Writing and Designing Easy-to-Use Health Web Sites  (web)  The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion (ODPHP) has written a research-based how-to guide for creating health Web sites and Web content for the millions of Americans with limited literacy skills and limited experience using the Web. The strategies in this guide complement accepted principles of good Web design and thus have the potential to improve the online experience for all users, regardless of literacy skills.  This guide is written for Web designers, Web content specialists, and other public health communication professionals.

HHS National Action Plan to Improve Health Literacy (web) The National Action Plan to Improve Health Literacy contains seven goals, each with specific strategies for different sectors of the health system, such as payers, the media, government agencies, and health care professionals, to improve health literacy.   These goals emphasize the importance of creating health and safety information that is accurate, accessible, and actionable. 

A Roadmap for Hospitals (PDF)  Advancing Effective Communication, Cultural Competence and Patient- and Family-Centered Care

Multicultural Health Care: A Quality Improvement Guide (PDF)

Health Literacy, eHealth and Communication: Putting the Consumer First - Workshop Summary (PDF)

The Joint Commission- New and Revised Standards & EPs for Patient Centered Communication (PDF)

In Plain Words: Creating Easy-to-Read Handouts (PDF) This packet of information is designed to assist you in writing your patient and family education materials.

Low Health Literacy: Implications for National Health Policy (PDF)

Measures of Health Literacy - Workshop Summary (PDF)​