The term health literacy was first used in a paper entitled Health Education as Social Policy (Simonds, 1974) in reference to health education as a policy issue affecting the health care system, the education system, and mass communication. In this context health literacy was described as, “health education meeting minimal standards for all school grade levels.”
Adult education specialists Cecilia (Ceci) and Leonard (Len) Doak and Jen Root further conceptualizes and expands upon the term health literacy in the classic textbook, Teaching Patients with Low Literacy Skills and suggests that health literacy be an independent research construct. Ceci and Len Doak are best known as the founders of the field of health literacy. Their original research collection is located at the National Libraries of Medicine’s History of Medicine Division.
86 Journal Articles on health literacy published in the United States.*
Plain Language Action and Information Network (PLAIN), an unfunded working group of federal employees from different agencies and specialties who support the use of clear communication in government writing launched PlainLanguage.Gov (redesign occurred in 2004).
211 Journal Articles on health literacy published in the United States.*
Health Literacy Awareness Month officiated in Chase’s Calendar of Events.
481 Journal Articles on health literacy published in the United States.*
The Health Research and Services Administration (HRSA) authored a guidance document for healthcare organizations to help in development of a Notice of Privacy Practices in plain language, as mandated by the 1996 Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA): Plain Language Principles and Thesaurus for Making Notice of Privacy Practices More Readable.
- National Academies of Science publishes Health Literacy: A Prescription to End Confusion, which highlighted that “efforts to improve quality, to reduce costs, and to reduce disparities cannot succeed without efforts to improve health literacy.”
- Institute of Medicine, Roundtable on Health Literacy established.
2,079 Journal Articles on health literacy published in the United States.*
- National Action Plan to Improve Health Literacy announced.
- Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) Universal Precautions Toolkit developed.
- CDC Health Literacy website launched, providing on demand health literacy training, information on state health literacy activities, resources and more.
- The Joint Commission releases Advancing Effective Communication, Cultural Competence, and Patient and Family-Centered Care: A Roadmap for Hospitals. The guide recommends integration of health literacy, cultural competency, and language access strategies into health care systems.
- Plain Writing Act passed and signed into law, requiring federal agencies to use clear government communication that the public can understand and use. The Act established the Federal Plain Language Guidelines and creation of Plain Language Officers within federal agencies to train staff, develop procedures for ensuring compliance with the Act, and write annual compliance reports on the agency’s progress.
- Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act passed and signed into law. The ACA establishes a statutory definition of health literacy (Title V, subsection A) and mentions health literacy applications in the healthcare system as it relates to research (Section 3501), shared decision-making (Section 3506), medication labeling (Section 3507), and workforce development (Section 5301).
4,729 Journal Articles on health literacy published in the United States.*
8,515 Journal Articles on health literacy published in the United States.*
The U.S. Federal Drug Administration (FDA) releases its Strategic Plan for Risk Communication and Health Literacy (2017-2019), to “more effectively communicate the benefits and risks of FDA-regulated products.” Four outcomes of the Plan include (1) increased use of clear communication best practices and plain language in developing messages, (2) increased development of messages and communications specifically for target audiences, (3) improved efficiency of internal operations for writing and developing communications, and (4) improved dissemination of communications and information. Most notable, the Plan promotes research on health literacy and risk communication and the value of audience testing of messages.
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services updates its Strategic Plan (2022-2026), adding Health Literacy and Plain Language Information Sharing as a cross-cutting principle, “Make it easier and less complex for individuals, families, and caregi
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