"Who ever thought up the word "Mammogram"? 

Every time I hear it, I think I'm supposed to put my breast in an envelope and send it to someone." 

Jan King


Simply stated, health literacy is the ablility to:

  • Find what I need
  • Understand what I find
  • Use what I find to meet my health needs

This simple definition incorporates many skills: reading, coprehending and analyzing information; decoding insturctions and charts; weighing risks and benfits in order to make wise decisions.  According to the Minnesota Health LIteracy Partnership, half of all American adults (90 million) experience difficulty understanding and using health information.  The following statisitics are quoted on thier website:

  • Low health literacy increase US health costs by $50 to $73 bilion each year.
  • In patient spending for someone with low health literacy was $993 higher than for patients with adequate reading skills
  • Those with low health literacy incur average health care costs of $13,000 compared to $3,000 for those with higher literacy levels.

This module addresses the two way street of communication by:

  • Providing tools and strategies to help patients navigate and utilize the health care system and the information they need to be healthy.
  • Offering strategies for clinics to incorporate in order to clearly provide health information in an effective manner.

An extensive list of resources is provided for the following topics:

  • What is health literacy and why is it important?
  • Assessing health literacy
  • General tutorials
  • Tools and strategies
  • Lessons we've learned