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Global Community Health and Behavioral Science Research Guide

Resources for the study and practice of community health and behavior sciences and the GCHB Department at Tulane's School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine

What is Health Literacy?

Health literacy is the ability to understand health information and to use that information to make good decisions about your health and medical care. Health information can overwhelm even people with advanced literacy skills. About one third of the adult population in the United States has limited health literacy.

Limited health literacy can affect your ability to

  • Fill out complex forms
  • Locate providers and services
  • Share personal information such as health history
  • Take care of yourself
  • Manage a chronic disease
  • Understand how to take medicines

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Health Literacy

Health literacy videos

Literacy Assessment

Federal Plain Language

Plain Language.gov

Resources in Multiple Languages

Low Literacy Patient Information

Health Literacy News from MedlinePlus

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Questions Are the Answer

Your health depends on good communication

Asking questions and providing information to your doctor and other care providers can improve your care. Talking with your doctor builds trust and leads to better results, quality, safety, and satisfaction.

Quality health care is a team effort. You play an important role. One of the best ways to communicate with your doctor and health care team is by asking questions. Because time is limited during medical appointments, you will feel less rushed if you prepare your questions before your appointment.

Your doctor wants your questions

Doctors know a lot about a lot of things, but they don't always know everything about you or what is best for you.

Your questions give your doctor and health care team important information about you, such as your most important health care concerns.

That is why they need you to speak up.

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