Health literacy interventions

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)


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


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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