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What Others Are Doing

Welcome to "What Others Are Doing" a Web page designed to help you build your own health literacy efforts. Here are ideas and activities from other groups as well as links to useful information.


National Programs

Adherence Action Agenda (A3 Project) 

This site includes a 10-step Adherence Action Agenda that places the spotlight on the pervasive and costly problem of poor medicine adherence, particularly among those age 65 and older with multiple chronic conditions, who are at the greatest risk of medication errors, drug interactions and costly disease complications.

OTC Literacy for Teachers

OTC Literacy for Teachers is a curriculum developed by Scholastic to educate fifth and sixth-grade students about medicine safety. It is modeled after the FDA's "Medicines in My Home" program.

Script Your Future:  Promoting Medication Adherence

The Script Your Future campaign, led by the National Consumers League, educates patients with chronic conditions, their family caregivers, and health care professionals about the importance of taking medication as directed. For many patients, the primary barrier to taking medications properly is not understanding how to take them or the need to take them.  The campaign has accessible tools and resources that help patients understand their chronic conditions and how medications work, as well as, charts to keep track of medications, fact sheets on conditions, and interactive videos.  A handy wallet-sized card contains a list to record medications and useful questions to start a conversation with a health care professional about medications – available in English and Spanish.  

State/Regional Programs

New Jersey Health Literacy Coalition website

The New Jersey Health Literacy Coalition website includes information about what is happening in the state as well as nationally around health literacy, a "Words of the Week" feature that translates medical jargon and terminology into "plain English", upcoming trainings and services offered, and success stories that relate how health literacy impacts lives.

Health Literacy Kentucky website

The Health Literacy Kentucky website contains resources for those interested in building a health literacy effort in Kentucky.

Florida Health Literacy Initiative

Established by the Florida Literacy Coalition, this statewide initiative helps local adult ESOL and family literacy programs incorporate health literacy into their institutions. It provides training for teachers, tutors, and administrators on how to integrate health information and topics into their instruction. The initiative is also implementing a mini-grants program for local organizations.

Minnesota Health Literacy Partnership website

The mission of the Minnesota Health Literacy Partnership is to improve the health of all Minnesotans through clear health communication. Their website contains free trainings, white papers, and materials to implement the Health Literacy Program for Minnesota Seniors (HeLP MN Seniors) Workshop.

Iowa Plain & Simple website

The Iowa Department of Public Health's Plain & Simple project aims to use plain language when talking or writing about health, and increase awareness about the role of health literacy in personal and community health. The website has readability calculators, before-and-after examples of improved health-related documents, and other resources

North Carolina Program on Health Literacy website

The NC Program on Health Literacy is a collaborative effort of multiple schools within the University of North Carolina, community organizations, and neighboring universities. They offer expertise and resources such as teaching and health communication aids, continuing medical education seminars, and quality improvement consultations.

Health Literacy Missouri Site

Health Literacy Missouri provides fee-based services, programs, and materials, and advocates for health literacy issues at the state and national levels.

California Health Literacy Initivative

The California Health Literacy Initivative website provides a wealth of health literacy information and resources including materials that use statistics and information provided by the American Medical Association Foundation.

CPHA health literacy

The Canadian Public Health Association (CPHA) health literacy website contains statistics, strategies, tools, and downloadable reports regarding Canada's health literacy.

Conferences and Meetings

IOM Roundtable on Health Literacy

Building on their 2004 report "Health Literacy: A Prescription to End Confusion", the Institute of Medicine (IOM) convenes a roundtable of leaders in academia, industry, government, foundations, and associations who have an interest and role in improving health literacy. They periodically use a listserv to announce upcoming meetings and the release of their reports.

Health Literacy Annual Research Conference

The Health Literacy Annual Research Conference is an interdisciplinary meeting for investigators dedicated to health literacy research including those involved in a broad array of public health, health services, epidemiology, translational, and interventional research activities.

IHA Annual Health Literacy Conference

The Institute for Healthcare Advancement holds an annual conference for health care professionals and educators to teach them about health literacy, the latest research, and how to improve their patient education.

ACP Foundation Health Communication Conferences

The American College of Physicians (ACP) Foundation holds annual health communication conferences. Executive summaries of past conferences are also available.

Cancer, Culture, and Literacy Conference

Hosted by the Moffitt Cancer Center every two years, this conference provides a national forum for the exchange and dissemination of information covering innovative research, novel training programs, and emerging research communications.  A particular emphasis on survivorship communications is highlighted.


Health Literacy Institute

The Health Literacy Institute is an opportunity to learn plain language skills to plan, write, and design effective, accessible information for print and web.  Since 1992, the institutes have been sponsored by the University of New England in Maine.

CDC report on older adults and online training

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offer an expert panel report "Improving Health Literacy for Older Adults" and an online training in health literacy for public health professionals. The course provides CE credits and is available at no charge.

NYNJ PHTC offers online training course

The New York-New Jersey Public Health Training Center (NYNJ PHTC) offers a free online training course titled "Health Literacy and Public Health". This course consists of two modules which demonstrate how the public's literacy skills affect interactions with medical and public health staff, and provide practical techniques for addressing literacy issues in spoken and written communications.

Medscape offers online CME/CE activity

An online CME/CE activity "Assuring Quality Care for People with Limited Health Literacy" is available through Medscape.  Upon completion, participants will be able to define health literacy and review how limited health literacy may affect the quality of healthcare, examine the relationship between health literacy and patient safety, identify those communication skills and clinical interventions that may improve health communication for all patients, and review clinical care strategies that may improve care for those populations most vulnerable to the effects of limited health literacy.

HRSA offers free online health literacy training

"Unified Health Communication: Addressing Health Literacy, Cultural Competency, and Limited English Proficiency" is a free online learning experience designed to help health professionals improve their patient-communication skills, increase their awareness and knowledge of factors that affect their communication with patients, and implement patient-centered communication practices. The course, developed by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), comprises five modules and is estimated to take a total of 5 hours to complete. The course may be completed at the user's own pace and may be taken for credit (CEU/CE, CHES, CME, and CNE) or not for credit.

Tools for Improving Health Literacy

CDC Health Literacy website
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides information and tools to improve health literacy and public health and make health information accurate, accessible and actionable for all. The website features roadmaps, trainings, and planning tools to use the National Action Plan to Improve Health Literacy.

CMS Toolkit for Making Written Material Clear and Effective
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) toolkit provides tips to help make written material in printed formats easier for people to read, understand, and use. The 11-part toolkit includes step-by-step guidance on how to test materials with readers, guidelines for writing, graphic design, and culturally appropriate translations from English into other languages, cautions about readability formulas, and tips for writing material for older adults.

AHRQ Web-Based Toolkit for Primary Care Practices
The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ)'s Health Literacy Universal Precautions Toolkit is designed to help clinicians implement practice-wide efforts to ensure that information provided to patients is accessible by those with limited health literacy. The kit includes a quick start guide, six easy implementation steps, resources to help identify and address areas that need improvement, and an appendix with sample forms, PowerPoint presentations, and worksheets.

AHRQ CAHPS Item Set for Addressing Health Literacy
AHRQ developed a new survey to help providers improve their health literacy practices. Their "Consumer Awareness of Healthcare Providers and Systems" (CAHPS) surveys are best known for use with patients leaving the hospital, but in this supplement for the "Clinician and Group" survey, patients can now assess their clinicians' communication strengths and weaknesses. Each survey question is based around recommendations and strategies outlined in the AMA Foundation's health literacy kit and patient safety monograph.

Training guides for healthcare providers

Resources on universal health care symbols
The Hablamos Juntos website offers health organizations a new and innovative solution to help limited English speaking populations navigate health facilities - universal symbols for health care. The site is designed for health care facilities and graphic designers interested in learning about and using newly developed health care symbols for wayfinding programs.

Patients prefer simplified advance directive over standard form
Research shows that a simplified advance directive written at a fifth-grade reading level, with graphics that reinforce the text, is overwhelming preferred and completed at a higher rate by patients at all literacy levels compared with a commonly available standard form written at a twelfth-grade level. Written advance directives are used by patients to document end-of-life treatment wishes, designate surrogate decision-makers, and promote discussion regarding treatment wishes. The simplified form can be downloaded free in English, Spanish, Chinese, and Vietnamese. The finding is in a study that was partially supported by the AMA Foundation.

Health Literacy Studies at Harvard
The Health Literacy Studies website within the Harvard School of Public Health contains materials for professionals in health and education who are interested in health literacy. It has different types of curricula for adult education programs, medical, and public health graduate courses, resources on creating and assessing written materials and websites, and plain language glossaries.

Health Literacy Special Collection at World Education
World Education compiled this collection of health literacy resources to help those in adult education, health care, and other fields address health literacy in their settings and form collaborations with each other. Resources include training opportunities, easy-to-read health information, research, curricula, and links to groups who are doing promising work.

Joint Commission urges patients to take an active role
The Joint Commission's education campaign, Understanding Your Caregivers, provides patients questions and answers that will help them better understand the care they receive. The campaign is part of their national patient safety Speak Up program which offers downloadable, easy-to-read brochures on issues such as preventing medication mistakes, avoiding wrong site surgery, and recovering after leaving the hospital.

AHRQ Pharmacy Health Literacy Center
The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) Pharmacy Health Literacy Center offers tools, a training program, and guides to help pharmacies provide better quality services to people with limited health literacy.

ACP Foundation Health Literacy Solutions Site
The American College of Physicians (ACP) Foundation health literacy website contains information for their annual health communication conferences, medication labeling resources, diabetes guide, and links to other articles and resources.

Baby Basics Prenatal Health Literacy Program
The What To Expect Foundation, which takes its name from the bestselling pregnancy and parenting series, has created the Baby Basics Prenatal Health Literacy Program. The program provides evidence-based tools, training and technical assistance for health care systems and providers to help them better educate and engage underserved pregnant women by using health literacy and cultural competency techniques.

Easy-to-Read Booklets on Alzheimer's Disease, Memory Loss
The National Institute on Aging offers two free booklets designed to help people with limited literacy skills learn about Alzheimer's disease and memory loss. In these easy-to-read booklets, the medical and technical language has been replaced by plain language, stories, photographs, and other features to help readers understand the content.

Quick Guide to Health Literacy
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services released a reference for professionals interested in health literacy, the Quick Guide to Health Literacy. Combining evidence and best practice, the strategies discussed in the guide include improving the usability of health information and health services, building knowledge to improve health decision-making, and advocating for health literacy improvement. The Quick Guide also contains a sample PowerPoint presentation on health literacy.

Improving health literacy starts with reliable, consumer-friendly health information
MedlinePlus contains a goldmine of good health information from the world's largest medical library, the National Library of Medicine. Their information is updated daily and covers more than 700 diseases and conditions. There are also lists of hospitals and physicians, a medical encyclopedia and dictionary, health information in Spanish, information on prescription and nonprescription drugs, health information from the media, and links to thousands of clinical trials.

Health literacy materials available in English, Arabic, Hmong and Somali
Supervised by the Minnesota Literacy Council and funded by a grant form the Minnesota Department of Education, Multi-Cultural Educational Services has created lessons and quizzes on how to read prescription and medical labels in English, Arabic, Hmong and Somali.

Improving Health Literacy Around Blood Tests
Ortho-Clinical Diagnostics and the National Association of Chronic Disease Directors have developed a report entitled Fundamentals to Wellness & Prevention, outlining the issues regarding Health Literacy and Blood Tests and the recommended strategies to improve patient understanding.