October is Health Literacy Month

October is a busy month.

We all know October is the National Breast Cancer Awareness Month.  It’s hard to miss the pink everywhere.  But did you know that October is also Health Literacy Month, Dental Hygiene Month (more on that one later!) and many more?

What is Health Literacy?

Health literacy is the ability to find, understand, and use information on health issues and medical services so that you can make informed decisions about your health.  A patient’s health literacy affects their health outcomes and quality of life greatly.  Only about 12 percent of U.S. adults have the skills to manage their health and prevent disease, according to the National Assessment of Adult Literacy. And without this essential knowledge, it can be hard for many people to learn how to improve their health.

The Institute of Medicine, Food and Drug Administration, US Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control, and the Agency for Health Care Research and Quality have all made it a priority to provide health information in a clear, easy to understand manner for patients.

For more information about health literacy and health literacy initiatives, take a look at the following links:

What is Health Literacy?

Health Literacy: A Prescription to End Confusion

What Did the Doctor Say?: Improving Health Literacy to Protect Patient Safety

Plain Writing Act of 2010


National Action Plan for Health Literacy

MedlinePlus: How to Write Easy-to-Read

Health literacy and patient safety: Help patients understand (and a shorter version here)

Health Literacy