October is Health Literacy Month, a recognition established to increase patient access to healthcare in 1999 by Helen Osborne, M.Ed, OTR/L, founder of Health Literacy Consulting. Since then, health literacy has expanded to also address how patients are able to find, access, understand, and use healthcare information and services to make informed decisions.
Understanding health literacy is important to creating a more equitable health environment, giving all people access to high-quality care and the opportunity to improve their health. Low health literacy can have a real impact on real people’s lives; According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), people with low health literacy are more likely to visit an emergency room, have more hospital stays, are less likely to follow treatment plans, and have higher mortality rates than those with higher health literacy rates.
Health literacy is a priority for us here at Wellsource as we develop products that are meant to empower patients. Our health risk assessments (HRAs) are informative, easy to use, and easy to understand. Why? Because patients are more likely to take a proactive approach to their health if they’re aware of their health risks and they understand the actions they can take to minimize those risks.
Here are some helpful resources as you develop a plan to increase your population’s health literacy, improve your communications, and implement simplified programs that are easy to access and understand.
The Institute for Healthcare Advancement (IHA) is the home of Health Literacy Month. In addition to information about the advocacy month, you’ll find an IHA Health Literacy Specialist Certificate Program, special events, and a “Teach Back” Training Toolkit. The site also includes resources that can be downloaded or used on digital and social media channels.
What Is Health Literacy and Why Should You Care?
We examine the core pillars of health literacy—and why it's important for everyone to find ways to improve health literacy.
The CDC provides information and tools to improve health literacy and public health. These resources are for all organizations that interact and communicate with people about health, including public health departments, healthcare providers and facilities, health plans, government agencies, non-profit/community and advocacy organizations, childcare and schools, the media, and health-related industries.
HRSA Health Literacy resources include how healthcare professionals can help patients with low health literacy, health equity reports, toolkits, and online learning features.
NIH provides key health literacy definitions and research findings, as well as links to additional resources from NIH and other HHS Agencies, and the healthcare community.
Role of Health Literacy in Health-Related Information-Seeking Behavior Online: Cross-sectional Study
This study, published by the Journal of Medical Internet Research, explores the role of health literacy and information-seeking behavior online. The findings? People with high health literacy and greater access to technological devices perform more internet searches on health-related topics.
3 Ways to Minimize the Impact of Low Health Literacy
Reduced health literacy affects almost 9 in 10 adults in the U.S. Avoid miscommunications and craft more impactful messaging in three steps: assume everyone struggles with health literacy, dig into your data, and have a plan.
The Impact of Health Literacy on Knowledge and Attitudes towards Preventive Strategies against COVID-19
From the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, this study on health literacy and attitudes toward preventive care against COVID found that better health literacy was associated with better attitudes toward preventive strategies against COVID-19.
A research-based guide from Health.gov provides comprehensive information about developing websites and digital tools to simplify the user experience. The site includes actionable steps that any healthcare provider can implement.
Published by the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion (ODPHP). One of Healthy People 2030’s overarching goals is to “eliminate health disparities, achieve health equity, and attain health literacy to improve health and well-being of all.” Six of their identified objectives relate to health literacy and are outlined on their website.
Wellcomplete HRAs are easy to understand, written for audience-appropriate health literacy levels, and, above all, actionable. Participants instantly receive a personalized report upon completing the HRA, with tailored health insights, areas for improvement, and follow-up suggestions. Learn more about our HRAs and how to improve your health outreach communications in our Health Literacy Guide.