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Health Literacy

Summary

Health literacy refers to how well a person can get the health information and services that they need, and how well they understand them. It is also about using them to make good health decisions. It involves differences that people have in areas such as

  • Access to information that they can understand
  • Skills, such as finding that information, communicating with health care providers, living a healthy lifestyle, and managing a disease
  • Knowledge of medical words, and of how their health care system works
  • Abilities, such as physical or mental limitations
  • Personal factors, such as age, education, language abilities, and culture

More than 90 million adults in the United States have low health literacy. It affects their ability to make health decisions. This can harm their health. They may have trouble managing chronic diseases, and leading a healthy lifestyle. They may go to the hospital more often, and have poorer health overall.

NIH: National Institutes of Health

Start Here

  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Institutes of Health)
  • (Department of Health and Human Services)
  • (Department of Health and Human Services)
  • (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

Related Issues

  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Institutes of Health)
  • (Food and Drug Administration)
  • (Food and Drug Administration) Also in
  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Institutes of Health)

Specifics

  • (National Library of Medicine) - MEDLINE/PubMed Search and Health Literacy Information Resources

Health Check Tools

  • (Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality)

Videos and Tutorials

Clinical Trials

  • From the National Institutes of Health (National Institutes of Health)

Journal Articles References and abstracts from MEDLINE/PubMed (National Library of Medicine)

Reference Desk

Find an Expert

  • From the National Institutes of Health

Children

  • (Nemours Foundation)

Teenagers

  • (Nemours Foundation) Also in

Seniors

  • (Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion)

Patient Handouts

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