National Academy of Medicine

Health Literacy as an Essential Component to Achieving Excellent Patient Outcomes

By Terri Ann Parnell, Elizabeth C. McCulloch, Jennifer H. Mieres, Fallon Edwards
January 28, 2014 | Discussion Paper

The U.S. population is more diverse than ever before in terms of race, ethnicity, language, socioeconomic status, and education level. In order to adequately serve these changing demographics, health care organizations must provide all persons with the ability to obtain, process, and understand basic health information and services needed to make appropriate health decisions. The authors of a new discussion paper write that in order to accomplish this, health care organizations must promote, sustain, and advance an environment that supports principles of health literacy. This paper discusses how establishing an Office of Diversity, Inclusion, and Health Literacy is critical to operationalize health literacy across an organization and enhance its viability, focus, and sustainability.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed in this paper are those of the authors and not necessarily of the authors’ organizations, the National Academy of Medicine (NAM), or the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (the National Academies). The paper is intended to help inform and stimulate discussion. It is not a report of the NAM or the National Academies. Copyright by the National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.