Only 12 percent of U.S. adults have the health literacy skills needed to manage the demands of our complex health care system, and even these individuals' ability to absorb and use health information can be compromised by stress or illness. Experts recommend assuming that everyone may have difficulty understanding and creating an environment where all patients can thrive. Like with blood safety, universal precautions should be taken to address health literacy because we can't know which patients are challenged by health care information and tasks at any given time. AHRQ’s Health Literacy Universal Precautions Toolkit – 2nd edition can help primary care practices reduce the complexity of health care, increase patient understanding of health information, and enhance support for patients of all health literacy levels.
Additional tools for improving health literacy:
- AHRQ Pharmacy Health Literacy Center
- Self-Management Support Video and Library
- Health Literacy Topics
Learn more about how to improve primary care by visiting AHRQ’s National Center for Excellence in Primary Care at: http://www.ahrq.gov/professionals/systems/primary-care/index.html.