Low health literacy is prevalent and the recommended Interventions to decrease the barriers for patients with low literacy benefit patients of all literacy levels. (Sudore & Schillinger, 2009)

The field of health literacy has adopted a universal precautions to make the case that clear communication should be the basis of every health information exchange. (US Department of Health and Human Services. (2010))

Best practice is using health literacy universal precautions for clear communication:
  • create a shame free environment
  • slow down
  • limit concepts
  • use clear language
  • check for understanding using the teach back method
Universal precautions is an inclusive and ethical approach to patient-provider communication. This approach is also recommended in the RNAO Clinical Best Practice Guidelines: Facilitating Client Centred Learning (2012).

Best practice is using the principles of clear language and design to create or select materials that are easy to read, understand and use.
“Writing health information for patients and families” can help you develop materials for patient and family education.

A health literacy audit can help providers assess the literacy-friendly practices in their health organizations. An audit involves walk-abouts and checklists that evaluate criteria such as print materials, staff and volunteer training, policies and procedures, and navigation.
Examples of health literacy audits:
The Health Literacy Environment of Hospitals and Health Centers
Opening Doors Literacy Alberta

Helpful Links
It's Safe to Ask

National Cancer Institute - Dictionary of Cancer Terms

Health Literacy Significance Influences Measurement Strategies About Us

Last updated: Aug 31, 2014
Health Literacy Connection