Center for Public Health Innovation

Health Literacy

Health literacy is defined as “the degree to which individuals have the capacity to obtain, process, and understand basic health information and services needed to make appropriate health decisions” (Healthy People 2010). A growing body of research is showing that

Health Literacy

Medical information is often misunderstood or misinterpreted by people with limited health literacy, which can result in missed appointments, medication errors, poor patient compliance and potentially poor health outcomes (American Medical Association). The following resources can help providers to better communicate with their patients.




  • Health Literacy: A Prescription to End Confusion
    Institute of Medicine Report, April, 2004
  • Clear & Simple: Developing Effective Print Materials For Low-Literate Readers
    National Cancer Institute, available at no cost.
  • Health Literacy Kit: Help your patients understand.
    American Medical Association