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Consumer Health: A Guide

A Matas Library portal for public access resources intended for consumer health questions.

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

Evaluating health information on the Internet

Health Literacy Websites

Questions are the Answers

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.

Health Literacy News from MedlinePlus

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ACP Health Literacy Video