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Patient Education: Health Literacy

What is Health Literacy?

Health literacy is the use of a wide range of skills that improve the ability of people to act on information in order to live healthier lives. These skills include reading, writing, listening, speaking, numeracy, and critical analysis, as well as communication and interaction skills. 

Health literacy applies to all individuals and to health systems. For example:

• An individual can be health literate by using the skills needed to find, understand, evaluate, communicate, and use information.

• Health care professionals can be health literate by presenting information in ways that improve understanding and ability of people to act on the information.

• Systems can be health literate by providing equal, easy, and shame-free access to and delivery of health care and health information. 

From the The Calgary Charter on Health Literacy: Rationale and Core Principles for the Development of Health Literacy Curricula 

Evaluating/Creating Health Information

More Resources

Health Literacy Infographic


Implementing Health Literacy

Health Literate Care Model

Our Resources

What Can I Do?


Ask Me 3: Good Questions for Your Good Health

Every time you talk with a health care provider, ask these questions:

  • What is my main problem?
  • What do I need to do?
  • Why is it important for me to do this?

Find out more about Ask Me 3.


A provider's communication skills can directly influence a patient's comprehension. When talking with a patient, follow these guidelines:

  • Slow down
  • Limit, but repeat, information at every visit
  • Avoid medical jargon
  • Use illustrations to explain important concepts
  • Use easy-to-read written materials
  • Make visits interactive
  • Use “teach-back” to gauge comprehension

From the National Patient Safety Foundation

Maguire Medical Library
Florida State University College of Medicine
1115 W. Call St., Tallahassee, FL 32306
Call 850-644-3883 (voicemail) or Text 850-724-4987
Questions? Ask us.