NIH Health Literacy Primer

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A primer on the definition and importance of health literacy in maintenance of health and the healthcare system.

Skills required by patients, cultural contexts, economic impact and research findings are explained in vernacular on this page.

“Health literacy requires a complex group of reading, listening, analytical, and decision-making skills, as well as the ability to apply these skills to health situations…

…it includes the ability to understand instructions on prescription drug bottles, appointment slips, medical education brochures, doctor’s directions and consent forms, and the ability to negotiate complex health care systems.

More recent definitions focus on specific skills needed to navigate the health care system and the importance of clear communication between health care providers and their patients.

Both health care providers and patients play important roles in health literacy. The number of different definitions for health literacy demonstrate how the field has evolved.”

Last Updated On September 15, 2018

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