Jan 19 2012

Recommended Reading: Health Literacy

The journal Health Affairs has released a new report on health literacy. The article authors include U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Assistant Secretary for Health Howard Koh, former Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services Director Donald Berwick, and Carolyn Clancy, Director of the Agency for Health Research and Quality. The authors conclude, “the promises of medical research, health information technology, and advances in health care coverage and delivery cannot be realized if our nation does not simultaneously address the challenge of limited health literacy. The federal initiatives of the past few years, combined with a growing commitment to health literate organizations and systems change, can help the nation tackle health literacy and ultimately help us all lead longer, healthier lives.”

According to the report, tens of millions of Americans have limited health literacy—a health issue, that the authors say has, until recently, been relegated to the sidelines. Federal policy initiatives include the National Action Plan to Improve Health Literacy, released in 2010 and the Plain Writing Act of 2010.

Several organizations and government agencies have created useful health literacy resources:

>>Read our earlier Q&A with HHS's Linda Harris and ARHQ's Cindy Brach, also two of the study authors, on efforts to improve health literacy.

Tags: Access to Health Care, Health Literacy, Prevention, Recommended Reading, Technology