Health literacy and messaging are important aspects of HHS research and program activities focusing on prevention. The Department’s agencies are engaged in a variety of health literacy activities. HHS agencies are beginning to include health literacy as a consideration in their research, assessment, training, program operations, and communication with the public, but there are opportunities for improvement.
- Continue research on multiple aspects of health literacy including: the impact of limited health literacy on health disparities; the nature and extent of limited health literacy in different populations and for different topics and contexts; the interaction of limited health literacy with other factors, such as age and disabilities; the most effective health literacy interventions for different segments of the population; and the impact of limited health literacy on the quality, access and outcomes of health care and public health services.
- Develop health and program information in a variety of languages.
- Emphasize the need to pre-test publications designed for wide-spread dissemination with the target audience prior to publication.
- Support the development of an evidence-based approach to training a broad spectrum of healthcare and public health professionals to communicate effectively with different types of patients, including those with limited literacy.
- Develop and validate measures of successful health literacy approaches.
- Provide leadership to identify and build consensus for outcome measures needed to improve health literacy across the population, in particular for the most vulnerable groups.
- Advise agencies to assess their information, communication, and programmatic activities with their intended audiences, particularly low literacy audiences.