Skip to main content

Health Literacy : What is Health Literacy?

What is Health Literacy?

This health literacy guide is focused on serving the health professional community at UW-Madison and the UWHC. We have put together a variety of resources from effective practitioner-to-patient communication, to countless resources to help develop and utilize health literacy.

Health literacy is one of the most important topics to understand when speaking with patients today. As the Health Resources and Services Administration writes, "Health literacy is the degree to which individuals have the capacity to obtain, process, and understand basic health information needed to make appropriate health decisions" (HRSA, 2019). Often, low health literacy rates are high among "older adults, minority populations, those with low socioeconomic status, and medically underserved people" (HRSA, 2019). As healthcare professionals there are several ways to address low health literacy and help patients better understand prognosis, treatment, and long-term care. This health literacy guide will help provide you with resources, training, and information about how to better address all patients and make an environment that is conducive to people with varying health literacy skills. 

For more information about health literacy, see the HRSA webpage or the NNLM webpage, and visit the health.gov webpage to learn more about the National Action Plan to Improve health literacy.