Health Literacy


About Us




Have you ever been to the doctor and not been sure how to fill out the intake form?  Have you ever wanted a soup with less salt, but weren’t sure how to compare the two cans?  Have you ever been confused about how you were supposed to take your medications?



What is Health Literacy?

Health literacy:

     a. Is the ability to find, understand, and use health information and services to make health decisions (Smith & Gutman, 2011).

     b. Is a balance of an individual’s skills versus the demands of the health care system (Harvard School of Public Health, 2011).

     c. Involves understanding health information, using it to make health decisions and including health habits into daily life (Smith & Gutman, 2011).


Having good health literacy helps a person to access all parts of health care.  It is linked to better health (Glassman, 2011).  Unfortunately, many people have poor health literacy even if they can read well. 


It is important to know how to improve your own health literacy.  Everyone has a responsibility to work towards a clear understanding of health that can be applied in everyday life.  This includes the media, health care professionals, and you!


The goal of this site is to provide resources to improve your understanding of health literacy.  We hope to give you some tools to improve health literacy.  This might be for yourself, a family member, or your community.



What is health literacy and why is it so important?

 1.  This article by the Washington Post describes why health literacy is an important skill and gives some real life examples of what can happen when people don’t understand their health care.


 2. Learn what health literacy is!  This website, created by the Medical Library Association, includes resources for both  health professionals and health consumers. 


3.  Understand why low health literacy is bad for your health.  This article includes some tips for talking to your health professionals.


4.  Created by the National Network of Libraries of Medicine, this website includes an introduction to health literacy as well as research on the impact of health literacy.  It also includes information for Consumer health librarians and nation-wide health literacy programs.


5.  Healthy People 2020 is a government initiative to see people living long and healthy lives and to prioritize nationwide health improvements.  This website includes information about the initiative and its objectives.