Health literacy interventions

Local governments can invest in this strategy using State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds (SLFRF) from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA).

  • This strategy can help improve access to health services. The U.S. Department of Treasury has indicated that strategies that help achieve this outcome are eligible for the use of Fiscal Recovery Funds.
  • Investments in this strategy are SLFRF-eligible as long as they are made in qualified census tracts or are designed to assist populations or communities disproportionately impacted by COVID-19.

Program basics

  • Interventions that enable individuals to obtain, process, and understand basic health information and services required to make appropriate health decisions
  • Approaches are based on improving patient-provider communication and simplifying health information through out-reach, patient navigation, translation from english and eHealth interventions
  • These approaches can be delivered by various health care providers, clinic staff, and public health professionals

Strength of evidence

Evidence level: Strong (second-highest tier)

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Strong (second-highest tier)

Ranked as having the second-highest level of evidence in County Health Rankings and Roadmaps "What Works for Health" clearinghouse


Target population

Community-wide

Program cost

Implementation locations

Dates active

Not available

Outcomes and impact

  • Improved health-related knowledge and adherence to treatment
  • Improved patient-provider communication
  • Improved mental health
  • Increased patient satisfaction

Keys to successful implementation

  • Local public health leadership should make health literacy integral to department mission, structure, and operations. Health literacy strategies should be integrated into all planning, evaluation, and patient safety measures.
  • Programs should be targeted to specific groups (elderly individuals, teen mothers, low income families, non-English speaking families) in order to provide targeted solutions.
  • Partnerships with primary health care workers, nurses and physicians, who tend to be the first responders to health needs, are effective in introducing health literacy in the community.
  • Health literacy interventions that combine multiple components and approaches (visual materials, video tutorials, health literacy training for physicians, and in-person patient assessments) are shown to increase patients’ comprehension and appropriate use of health care.
  • Tailoring interventions to minorities, those with low levels of education, with limited experience with computers, or those with language barriers can also promote patient engagement and increase health literacy.
  • An expected challenge can be that health care providers may not be able to accurately identify patients’ health literacy limitations. Time limitations per patient can also hinder good provider-patient engagement.

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