Pharmaceutical PictogramsPictograms/Storyboard
This is the "Health Literacy" page of the "Health Literacy and Patient Education Guide" guide.
Alternate Page for Screenreader Users
Skip to Page Navigation
Skip to Page Content
A-Z Site IndexMy Library AccountCanvasOffice 365 EmailUCD AccessHealth Sciences LibraryHealth Sciences LibraryCU Anschutz Medical Campus

Health Literacy and Patient Education Guide  

“The degree to which people have the capacity to obtain, process and understand basic health information and services needed to make appropriate health decisions.” This guide includes resources for patient education, teaching, and discharge planning.
Last Updated: Jul 2, 2013 URL: Print Guide RSS Updates

Health Literacy Print Page



Free Online Health Literacy Course!

The CDC has created a free “Health Literacy for Public Health Professionals Online Training” program to help educate public health professionals about issues with health literacy (patients and the public lack of health literacy) and their role in addressing it.

The CDC is offering a free online course which can be accessed any time any where you have a computer with Internet access and 1-2 hours of spare time. After taking the course health professionals will have a better understanding of the significance of health literacy and will learn practical steps to deal with health literacy daily.

This course qualifies for continuing education credit for nurses, physicians, pharmacists, health information specialistis, etc.

This online course must be completed before 9/14/2013 to receive credit.



This Guide has been created for the health professional who wants to:

  • Improve communication with patients and others

  • Teach themselves or other health professionals about health literacy and clear communication

The guide is a work-in-progress.  New links are added several times a week.  Organization changes are driven by new discoveries.

Please become an active participant in the effort to improve health communication by helping us improve this site.  Use the comments capability to add your thoughts, comments and suggestions. You can help make this a better resource.


Definition of Health Literacy

In the report Healthy People 2010 (, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services included improved consumer health literacy as Objective 11-2, and identified health literacy as an important component of health communication, medical product safety, and oral health. Health literacy is defined in Health People 2010 as: "The degree to which individuals have the capacity to obtain, process, and understand basic health information and services needed to make appropriate health decisions".

Health literacy includes the ability to understand instructions on prescription drug bottles, appointment slips, medical education brochures, doctor's directions and consent forms, and the ability to negotiate complex health care systems. Health literacy is not simply the ability to read. It requires a complex group of reading, listening, analytical, and decision-making skills, and the ability to apply these skills to health situations.

Health literacy varies by context and setting and is not necessarily related to years of education or general reading ability. A person who functions adequately at home or work may have marginal or inadequate literacy in a health care environment. With the move towards a more "consumer-centric" health care system as part of an overall effort to improve the quality of health care and to reduce health care costs, individuals need to take an even more active role in health care related decisions. To accomplish this people need strong health information skills.


Health Literacy. (n.d.). . Retrieved August 20, 2010, from

Education & Reference Support Coordinator

Profile Image
Ruby L. Nugent
Contact Info
Send Email
Health Sciences Library | University of Colorado Denver
Mail Stop A003, 12950 E. Montview Blvd., Aurora, CO 80045, USA Tel: 303-724-2152
Ask Us
Tell Us

Loading  Loading...