National Academy of Medicine

Health Literacy Principles: Guidance for Making Information Understandable, Useful, and Navigable

By Kara L. Jacobson,Ruth M. Parker
December 22, 2014 | Discussion Paper

Research documents that most people in the United States cannot understand or use the complex information needed for managing their health and effectively using health care services. We believe it is critical to take a health-literate approach to solving this problem, that is, to align system demands and complexities with individual skills and abilities. For the past two decades, we worked to advance research, teaching, and practices that systematically address improving health literacy. In this piece, we offer a synthesis of the principles we follow to create health information that is better aligned with the skills and abilities of those using that information. We then offer links to examples of materials where these principles guided the development and presentation of information.

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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.