Why Health Literacy is Important to Me

by Laura Brown, MLS, Clinical Librarian

Many years ago, my interest and involvement in patient education activities evolved into a deep seeded concern for health literacy issues.  I was horrified by the statistics. According to The National Assessment of Adult Literacy, only 12% of Americans are fully health literate (defined as having the necessary tools to manage their health care effectively). We, as health care workers, have no way to significantly increase the tool set that our patients bring to this equation.  The only way we can realistically combat this problem is by making the health care system easier to navigate with the tools our patients already have.  There are a lot of creative ideas on how to simplify the equation and last May I was exposed to some of them.

The Institute for Healthcare Advancement’s (IHA) 13th Annual Health Literacy Conference was held May 7-9 in Irvine, CA. I was able to attend thanks to an educational stipend from the National Network of Libraries of Medicine Pacific Southwest Region.  A newsletter article written for their publication tells about what their Consumer Health and Technology Coordinator Kelli Ham and I brought away from that experience (click on the title below to read the article).

Improving Health Literacy: Applying Knowledge Gained from the IHA Health Literacy Conference


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