Health Literacy Industry Publications

ICSN_designing_print_materials_color- Breast cancer screenings_tn.pngDesigning Print Materials: A Guide for Breast Cancer Screening

ICSN_designing_print_materials_color- Breast cancer screenings.png

This guide was developed as part of an effort to improve the quality of the information that breast cancer screening programs provide to women. This practical guide is part of a set of activities undertaken by the International Cancer Screening Network (ICSN), a voluntary organization of members from around the world. The ICSN works to improve the quality of cancer screening by fostering collaborative efforts aimed at understanding how to use and compare data from screening programs internationally and by developing methods to evaluate the impact of these programs. As part of this effort, the ICSN has identified international quality measures that are being examined in many countries and used to improve program performance and outcomes.s

pdf_icon.png ICSN_designing_print_materials_color- Breast cancer screenings.pdf      (4.4 MB)

AMAF_Hl_Manual_for_Clinicians_tn.pngHealth Literacy and Patient Safety: Help Patients Understand

Manual for Clinicians, 2nd ed.


This manual by Barry D. Weiss, MD, published by the American Medical Association Foundation, reviews the problem of health literacy, its consequences for the health care system, and the likelihood that a clinician’s practice includes patients with limited literacy. The manual then provides practical tips for clinicians to use in making their office practices more “user friendly” to patients with limited literacy, and gives suggestions for improving interpersonal communication between clinicians and patients.

pdf_icon.png amaf_healthlitclinicians.pdf      (1.5 MB)

IOM_HLNW_Summary_tn.pngIOM Health Literacy and Numeracy Workshop Summary


The Board on Population Health and Public Health Practice of the Institute of Medicine established the Roundtable on Health Literacy to foster dialogue and discussion to advance the field of health literacy and to improve the translation of research findings to health care, education, and policy. The roundtable strives to enhance mutual understanding of health literacy among the health community and the general public, and to provide a mechanism that fosters collaboration among stakeholders. To accomplish its purpose, the roundtable brings together leaders from academia, industry, government, foundations, and associations as well as representatives of patient and consumer interests who have an interest and role in improving health literacy. It also commissions papers and conducts workshops to inform its meetings.

On July 18, 2013, the roundtable conducted a workshop that featured the presentation of the commissioned paper by its authors (see Appendix A for the commissioned paper). Other presenters were invited to speak on a number of topics related to numeracy, including the effects of ill health on cognitive capacity, issues with communication of health information to the public, and communicating numeric information for decision making. The workshop was organized into four panels of speakers, each followed by a brief discussion. The chapters of this workshop summary are organized by panel presentations.


pdf_icon.png IOM Prepub Health Literacy and Numeracy Workshop Summary.pdf      (2.1 MB)

AHIP2013_tn.pngHealth Literacy and AHIP: Laying the Foundation and Beyond


Now in its 3rd Edition, Health Literacy and America’s Health Insurance Plans: Laying the Foundation and Beyond summarizes the health literacy programs of 31 AHIP member companies and describes their commitment to providing consumers with information on their health and benefits that can be easily understood and used to good advantage.

pdf_icon.png Health Literacy and AHIP Book Nov 2013.pdf      (5.9 MB)

toolkit_written_tn.pngToolkit for Making Written Material Clear and Effective


The Toolkit for Making Written Material Clear and Effective was written for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) by Jeanne McGee, McGee & Evers Consulting, Inc. As shown below, this 11-part Toolkit provides a detailed and comprehensive set of tools to help you make written material in printed formats easier for people to read, understand, and use.

Part 1: About this Toolkit and how it can help you

Part 2: Using a reader-centered approach to develop and test written material

Part 3: Summary List of the "Toolkit Guidelines for Writing and Design"

Part 4: Understanding and using the "Toolkit Guidelines for Writing"

Part 5: Understanding and using the "Toolkit Guidelines for Graphic Design"

Part 6: How to collect and use feedback from readers

Part 7: Using readability formulas: A cautionary note

Part 8: Will your written material be on a website?

Part 9: Things to know if your written material is for older adults

Part 10: "Before and after" example: Using this Toolkit's guidelines to revise a brochure

Part 11: Understanding and using the "Toolkit Guidelines for Culturally Appropriate Translation"

Toolkit Parts 1-3 and 7-11 each consists of a single document. Toolkit Parts 4-6 each consists of several documents denoting chapters. The complete set of files that make up the Toolkit is provided here:

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More information on the Toolkit is available at

HealthLiteracyInfographic_tn.pngInfographic: The facts about health literacy


From Betsy Caron, a contributing writer at HealthCare IT News, comes this interesting Infographic of health literacy in the United States. Available as a PDF file and as a large PNG grahic file.

pdf_icon.png HealthLiteracyInfographic.pdf      (1.1 MB)

HealthLiteracyInfographic_lg.png      (2.4 MB)

HHS_CMS-uniform-glossary-final_tn.pngHHS/CMS Uniform Glossary of Terms


Under the Affordable Care Act, health insurers and group health plans will provide the 180 million Americans with private insurance with clear, consistent and comparable information about their health plan benefits and coverage. Specifically, the proposed regulations would ensure consumers have access to a uniform glossary of terms commonly used in health insurance coverage. The jargon that makes it impossible to figure out what is covered and how one insurance plan stacks up compared to another will be replaced with terms that are the same across all plans. Insurance companies and group health plans will be required to make available upon request a uniform glossary of terms commonly used in health insurance coverage such as “deductible” and “co-pay”. For more information on these proposed HHS regulations please visit or download a copy of the uniform glossary below.

pdf_icon.png HHS_CMS-uniform-glossary-final.pdf      (140 KB)

low_skills_tn.pngTeaching Patients with Low Health Literacy Skills


Since it was first published, Teaching Patients with Low Literacy Skills by Doak, Doak, & Root has become a major resource book for health information providers who know that their patients aren't getting the message. It addresses the mismatch between the literacy skills of Americans and the literacy demands of healthcare instruction.

This book is provided here as a series of PDF files with permission of the authors Ceci and Len Doak.

To read or download each section, click or right-click the following links:

pdf_icon.png Doak.1.Intro.pdf      (436 KB)
pdf_icon.png Doak.2.Chap1-4.pdf      (5.4 MB)
pdf_icon.png Doak.3.Chap5-7.pdf      (6.0 MB)
pdf_icon.png Doak.4.Chap8-10.pdf      (4.2 MB)
pdf_icon.png Doak.5.Appendices.pdf      (1.2 MB)

CHCS_HL_Implications_ACA_tn.pngHealth Literacy Implications of the Affordable Care Act


While the Affordable Care Act (ACA) does not focus explicitly on health literacy, the law's success arguably calls for a redoubling of national efforts to address the issue. Nearly 36 percent of America's adult population is considered functionally illiterate, with rates of low literacy found disproportionately among lower-income Americans eligible for publicly financed care through Medicaid.

In this report, commissioned by the Institute of Medicine, the Center for Health Care Strategies (CHCS) identifies provisions in the ACA that directly and/or indirectly address health literacy. Findings herein can inform efforts to implement related enrollment, care delivery, and public health strategies that support and respond to health literacy levels in the expansion population.

You can download this report at the CHCS wesbite: … ations_show.htm?doc_id=1261193

CHCS President Stephen A. Somers and Program Associate Roopa Mahadevan presented this report at a November 2010 Institute of Medicine workshop on the topic of health literacy and health care reform.  For more information and additional resources, visit:

action_plan_tn.pngNational Action Plan to Improve Health Literacy


Produced by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the National Action Plan to Improve Health Literacy seeks to engage organizations, professionals, policymakers, communities, individuals, and families in a linked, multisector effort to improve health literacy. The plan is based on the principles that (1) everyone has the right to health information that helps them make informed decisions and (2) health services should be delivered in ways that are understandable and beneficial to health, longevity, and quality of life. The vision informing this plan is of a society that:

  • Provides everyone with access to accurate and actionable health information
  • Delivers person-centered health information and services
  • Supports lifelong learning and skills to promote good health

pdf_icon.png Health_Literacy_Action_Plan.pdf      (666 KB)