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Health literacy

Our goal: To create and support Children’s Hospital as a health literate organization that enables patients and families to navigate, understand, and use information and services to take care of their health.

What is health literacy?

Health literacy is the ability to read, understand and act on basic health information.

Who is affected by low health literacy?

Nearly 9 out of 10 adults have difficulty using the everyday health information that is routinely available in a healthcare setting. The ability to understand and use health information can be affected by emotional status, worry, sleep deprivation or unfamiliar topics. Everyone, regardless of education level, intelligence, or socioeconomic status can experience challenges in processing medical information, especially when undergoing the stress of dealing with a serious illness or injury.

Why health literacy matters?

Patients or families with low health literacy are:

  • hospitalized longer and more frequently
  • using the ER to manage health more often
  • making more medication errors
  • having poorer health outcomes
  • Increasing health care costs

What should you do?

Take a universal approach to health literacy and communicate clearly using the recommended health literacy strategies to everyone, every time.
The burden of understanding does not rest on the patient. Patient understanding is the responsibility of the health system.

The Health Literacy Task Force created these videos to provide information on health literacy.