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Health Literacy Resource Guide

What is Health Literacy?

What is Health Literacy?

  • Health Literacy allows the public and personnel working in all health-related contexts to find, understand, evaluate, communicate, and use information.
  • Health Literacy is the use of a wide range of skills that improve the ability of people to act on information in order to live healthier lives.
  • These skills include reading, writing, listening, speaking, numeracy, and critical analysis, as well as communication and interaction skills. 

(The Calgary Charter on Health Literacy)


While health literacy includes individual skills and knowledge, it is also affected by the demands and expectations of the healthcare system.

To achieve health literacy we need to create a better balance between these demands and the skills/resources of patients and families.

What are Health Literacy Universal Precautions?

Improving health literacy involves taking "Health Literacy Universal Precautions" - specific actions  to minimize the risk for everyone. They are aimed at:
  • Simplifying communication with all patients and confirming that they understand so that the risk of miscommunication is minimized
  • Making the office environment and health care system easier to navigate
  • Supporting patients efforts to improve their health

(Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality)

See the model below and the "Putting it into Practice" tab for more information on health literacy universal precautions.

Health Literate Care Model

Click on the purple + sign beside each stage of the model to learn more

For more information on the model this is based on, see Koh et al (2013)

For more information, contact Patient Education