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Health Literacy Toolkit

What is health literacy?

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 defines health literacy as the degree to which an individual has the capacity to obtain, communicate, process, and understand basic health information and services to make appropriate health decisions. It is imperative that health care providers deliver information to patients in a way that they can understand, so they can take an active role in managing their health. 

How do health care providers promote health literacy?

The manner in which patients and their family members and caregivers receive education about the plan of care will greatly influence their knowledge about what actions they need to take to stay healthy and achieve optimal outcomes. Health care providers need to be skilled in providing patient education to promote patient safety.

Teach-back is an effective health literacy tool that allows health care providers to immediately assess the extent that the patient understands the information they have received about their care. Teach-back is an evidence-based method that helps ensure that the health care provider has explained the essential concepts to patients and their families and caregivers because it involves the  patient repeating back, in their own words, what they learned during the teaching session. This  enables the health care provider to reinforce concepts and clarify any confusion.


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