What is health literacy?
The nation’s ten-year health strategy (Healthy People 2030) includes an overarching goal to “eliminate health disparities, achieve health equity, and attain health literacy to improve the health and well-being of all.” Its health literacy objectives address two distinct but interrelated definitions of health literacy:
- Personal health literacy is the degree to which individuals have the ability to find, understand, and use information and services to inform health-related decisions and actions for themselves and others.
- Organizational health literacy is the degree to which organizations equitably enable individuals to find, understand, and use information and services to inform health-related decisions and actions for themselves and others.
When people understand health information they are able to:
- Find the information they need about health
- Easily understand information the first time they read or hear it
- Use the information to make decisions about their health
- Make good choices about their lifestyle and health care
For health professionals, addressing health literacy is key to the success of:
- Health care organizations’ quality and value-based payment program metrics
- Public health communications
- Health education and promotion programs
- Population health management strategies
What is the UAMS Center for Health Literacy?
We are an interprofessional team of health literacy experts dedicated to improving individual and population health by making health information easy to understand and use. We provide services to individuals and organizations across the globe who communicate health information with patients and the public. Evidence-based best practices inform all that we do at UAMS CHL. Our nationally recognized, award-winning team includes experts in:
- Health communication
- Health education
- Spanish language interpreting and translation
- Community health
What do we do?
To achieve our mission we focus on four main objectives:
- Collaborative research to better understand health literacy, how it contributes to health outcomes, and evidence for how to improve health communication.
- Health communication services for health care providers and other professionals to address the critical need of closing the gap between the complexities of health information and individuals’ abilities to understand and act on it.
- Promoting, through training and consultation, health education, and plain language best practices for providers, organizations, and systems.
- Consulting on organizational policies and practices to address health literacy challenges.
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