Effective health communication encompasses Cultural Competence, Health Literacy, Ethics & Moral Distress, and Patient Safety. Search this site by keyword or category to find the resource you need.

Health Literacy

Culture, Communication, and Ethics in Healthcare

Health Literacy

Health Literacy

A Framework for Health Literacy

From the Ministry of Health in New Zealand, a framework for the establishment of a health literate health system.

A Prescription to End Confusion

Report from the Institute of Medicine (IOM) Committee on Health Literacy


Advancing Effective Communication, Cultural Competence, and Patient-and-Family-Centered Care: A Roadmap for Hospitals A comprehensive guide to meeting the unique needs of patients
Always Use Teach-Back

The purpose of this training toolkit is to help all health care providers learn to use teach back (teachback) —every time it is indicated—to support patients and families throughout the care continuum, especially during transitions between health care settings.

AMA Foundation Health Literacy video interviews

American Medical Association Foundation's interviews with people who have low health literacy. Part of the now-defunct Health Literacy program from the AMAF.

America's Health Literacy: Why We Need Accessible Health Information Information and survey results from the US Deptartment of Health & Human Services about health literacy and policy implications
Ask Me 3

Ask Me 3(TM) is a patient education program designed to promote communication from the National Patient Safety Foundation (NPSF)

Benefit Risk Characterization Theater (BRCT)

Eric Rifkin and Andrew Lazris demonstrate the realistic pros and cons of mammogram statistics by using a illustration and avoiding math

Building Health Literate Organizations:A Guidebook to Achieving Organizational Change

Contains chapters and a case study on key health literacy development areas that intersect with the attributes of health literate health care organizations:

  • Engaging leadership
  • Preparing the workforce
  • The care environment
  • Involving populations served
  • Verbal communication
  • Reader-friendly materials
Can This Patient Read and Understand Written Health Information? One question assessment of literacy level. JAMA systematic review of the accuracy of brief instruments for identifying patients with limited literacy.
CDC Clear Communication Index

A research-based tool to plan and assess public communication materials.

CDC's Health Literacy Website Self-assessments, background information on health literacy, steps to improve materials and links to resources about older adults and caregivers
CMS The Tools (Quick Help)kit for Making Written Materials Clear and Effective

A health literacy resource from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. The Tools (Quick Help)kit provides a set of Resources to help make written material in printed formats easier for people to read, understand, and use.

Colorectal Cancer Screening - An Informational Video for Nepali Speaking Patients

This 8-minute video describes the two most common procedures for colorectal cancer screening: fecal occult blood testing and colonoscopy. It is presented entirely in Nepali.

Communicating Risks and Benefits: An Evidence-Based User's Guide This guide provides scientific foundations for effective communication about risk
Cultural Competency College of Medicine Medical University of South Carolina
Easy-to-Read Easy to read health information from MedlinePlus
Global Health Media

Access to videos on basic health care information for resource-poor areas.

Hablamos Juntos: Language Policy and Practice in Healthcare Universal symbols for use in healthcare
Health Care Educational Association (HCEA): Educational Tools for Our Trade Resources, instruction, & communications for both staff and clients from HCEA - a multi-disciplinary professional organization of health care educators.
Health information translations Health education resources in multiple languages for health care providers and patients including American Sign Language, Arabic, Bosnian, Chinese, English, French, Hindi, Japanese, Korean, Marshallese, Multilingual, Portuguese, Russian, Somali, Tagalog, Ukranian, Vietnamese
Health Insurance Literacy Resources Contains a list of resources for consumers, insurance navigators, and others to help explain health insurance terms, benefits, and important facts.
Health Literacy and Cultural Competency

This site includes patient resources, research information, and audio/video products from AHRQ

Health Literacy and Patient Safety & Quality: Help Patients Understand Health Literacy Program Video
Health Literacy Assessment Tools Literacy Assessment Instruments from the NC Program on Health Literacy
Health Literacy for Public Health Professionals A CME course from the CDC
Health Literacy Lab

Health Literacy Lab is a free online library offering lessons and tips to help health and safety professionals improve their communication skills. City of New York School of Public Health, 2015.

Health Literacy Online A guide to writing and designing easy-to-use health websites
Health Literacy Special Collection Health literacy, multicultural information, and activities to use with patients to help address health literacy issues
Health Literacy Studies Harvard School of Public Health
Health Literacy Tool Shed

A database of health literacy measures

Health Literacy Universal Precautions Tools (Quick Help)kit University of North Carolina Toolkit to develop a comprehensive health literacy program.
Health Literacy Workgroup’s “Teach-back to the Future” video

Brief video showing techniques and tips for teach-back, created by the UVA Health Literacy Workgroup in 2016

Health Literacy: A Prescription to End Confusion National Academies Press free online pdf
Health Literacy: Accurate, Accessible and Actionable Health Information for All Self-assessments, background information on health literacy, steps to improve materials and links to resources about older adults and caregivers
Health Literacy: The Solid Facts

This publication makes the case for policy action to strengthen health literacy. Evidence, including the results of the European Health Literacy Survey, is presented that supports a wider and relational whole-of-society approach.

Health Literacy: UNC Health Sciences Library Guide

Links for Readability and Literacy Assessment(SMOG, Fry Readability Graph), Writing Easy-to-Read Materials, and Talking with Patients

Help Your Patients Engage In Their Health Care

AHRQ: Patient and family engagement resources for use in hospitals.


Herschel S. Horowitz Center for Health Literacy at the University of Maryland Maryland coalition to improve health outcomes through health literacy
HRSA Health Literacy Free on-line course on Effective Communication Tools for Healthcare Professionals and links to other government agencies working to improve health literacy.
http://engagingthepatient.com/ Blog from Emmi Solutions connecting healthcare leaders with peers who are concerned about patient engagement. This blog is also a source for news and insight on the pressing issues of communication in healthcare.
I*CARE A program for Interpersonal Communication and Relationship Enhancement from MD Anderson Cancer Center. Offers many free resources and CME
Kids Health from Nemours

Information about health, behavior, and development from before birth through the teen years (pediatrics) geared towards kids, teens, parents, and health care educators (English and Spanish)

L-E-A-R-N Model of cross cultural medical interviewing guidelines
Lexicomp (UVA access only) UVA access only. Includes UVA formulary. Accessible from the Clinical Portal > RX Reference. Drug info, toxicology, and adult & pediatric patient education handouts. Languages offered include: Arabic, Chinese, Creole, English, French, German, Greek, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Polish, Portuguese, Punjabi, Russina, Spanish, Tagalog, Turkish, Vietnamese.
Lincs Literacy Information and Communication System National source for literacy - research, practice and resources.
Low Health Literacy: You Can't Tell by Looking Health Literacy Program Video
Making Data Talk: A Workbook

From the National Cancer Institute, the ultimate goal of this workbook is to help users select and communicate quantitative data in ways lay audiences can understand.

MEDLINE/PubMed Search and Health Literacy Information Resources

Health literacy search strategy and information resources compiled by the National Library of Medicine 

National Action Plan to Improve Health Literacy U.S. Department of Health and Human Services action plan to engage organization, professionals, policymakers, communities, individuals and families to improve health literacy.
National Center for Cultural Competence Georgetown University Center programs to increase culturally and linguistically competent care.
National Network of Libraries of Medicine Overview of health literacy concepts, techniques for improving health literacy, examples of best practice, and suggestions for addressing health literacy within an organization
NIH Senior Health Basic health and wellness information for older adults from the National Institutes of Health
North Carolina Program on Health Literacy University of North Carolina Toolkit to develop a comprehensive health literacy program.
Oral Health Literacy

Institute of Medicine (IOM) Roundtable on Health Literacy workshop on limited health literacy and its association with inaccurate knowledge about preventive measures such as water fluoridation, dental care visits, dental caries severity, and oral health–related quality of life

Personal Medicine List (English)

Medication card tool to help patients make a list of home medications and other health information(English). Also available in Spanish

Personal Medicine List (Spanish)

Tool to help patients make a list of home medications and other health information(Spanish)

Pfizer Clear Health Communication Source for Newest Vital Sign and other health literacy tools and information.
Picture/letter speech chart Alternative form of communication for patients who are cognitively intact and are able to point
Plain Language Medical Dictionary

The Plain Language Medical Dictionary widget is a project of the University of Michigan Taubman Health Sciences Library as part of the Michigan Health Literacy Awareness project. To use, click on the drop down menu to browse the list of high-level medical terms. Once a word or phrase is selected, the plain language translation will appear in the box

Plain Language Thesaurus Easy-to-read equivalents to medical terms, phrases, and references
Program for readability in Science and Medicine (PRISM) Online training for developing readable consent forms
Quick Guide to Health Literacy Overview of health literacy concepts, techniques for improving health literacy, examples of best practice, and suggestions for addressing health literacy within an organization
Quick Identification of Adults with Limited Health Literacy

This POEM describes three useful single-item questions for identifying limited literacy in the busy office setting:   (1) "Do you usually ask someone to help you read materials you receive from the hospital?" (2) "How confident are you filling out medical forms by yourself?"  and (3) "How would you rate your ability to read?"

Reach Out and Read English and Spanish information about helping children develop good reading skiils.
Spanish/English phrase chart To help with communication with patients who speak Spanish. Patients can point to words/pictures for symptoms, pain, comfort.
Teaching Patients with Low Literacy Skills Second Edition, Doak, Doak, & Root, 1996. Full online version of a classic text in health literacy.
Teach-back method - videos from UNC Teach-back (or teachback) is the best method of confirming whether a learner understands information about the skills or knowledge taught.
The Health Care Law and You

This is an easy to understand update on the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The law that requires everyone to have health insurance.

The Health Literacy & Plain Language Resource Guide

Comprehensive overview of health literacy & plain language resources, created by Health Literacy Innovations with support from the AmeriHealth Mercy Family of Companies.

The Health Literacy Tool Shed

The Health Literacy Toolshed is an online database of health literacy measures.

The Joint Commission (TJC) Evaluates and accredits nearly 16,000 health care organizations and programs in the US. They provide tools related to health literacy patient and family centered care, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgenered community and patient safety.
The Patient’s Toolkit for Diagnosis

The Toolkit has a set of prompts and questions to help you participate and partner with your medical care team.

TV guide for hospital television programming Includes information for channels that cover Patient Safety & Quality, health topics, video requests and regular programming
UVA Guidelines for the Development of Patient and Family Education Materials Information to use when creating handouts for patients and families. Includes draft copyright permission form.
UVa Spanish Toolkit

UVa Spanish Language Toolkit has simple medical conversational Spanish phrases with pronounciation guide. Can be used to supplement Interpreter to provide comfort and basic communication with patients and families.

Virginia ESOL Health Literacy Toolkit

This toolkit offers explanations, tips, materials, and links to help ESOL teachers and programs better understand and address the health literacy challenges faced by adult English language learners in U.S. health care.


Words To Watch

Examples of words that can cause confusion and suggestions for better choices that healthcare providers can use from Pfizer's Clear Health Communication site.

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