Health Literacy

Nurse helping senior with medicationWhen most Americans leave their doctor’s office, they do not understand all of the doctor or nurse’s instructions.  In fact, only 12% of Americans are fully health literate, according to the US Department of Health and Human Services. Health literacy means being able to understand and act on instructions from a doctor or nurse.  This issue impacts all of us personally, while also making health care more expensive.  It is something that doctors, nurses, receptionists, social workers, caregivers and patients can help improve.

The MetroWest Racial and Ethnic Disparities Workgroup has made health literacy a focus of their work.  The Workgroup includes leaders from social service, medical, and housing agencies across the region.   The mission of the Workgroup is to work towards the elimination of racial and ethnic disparities in health, health care, and access to care for all MetroWest residents by providing education and resources that support health literacy and culturally competent services. 

The websites and articles listed below have been reviewed by the group.  There are many more resources available, so this list is only a starting point.

General Resources

Resources for Health Providers

Resources to Share with Patients and Caregivers

Other Communication Tools

Examples from the Field

Training Opportunities

  • HRSA Online Course
    The interactive training course, “Unified Health Communication: Addressing Health Literacy, Cultural Competency, and Limited English Proficiency,” aims to raise the quality of provider-patient interactions by teaching providers and their staff how to gauge and respond to their patients' health literacy, cultural background, and language skills. The course's five modules take five hours to complete.
  • CDC Online Course
    Health Literacy for Public Health Professionals
  • American Medical Association Health Literacy Toolkit
    DVD and manual available for $35
  • Always Use Teach Back! Training Toolkit
    Site contains information and videos on the Teach Back method as well as a comprehensive toolkit for implementing the method

161 Worcester Rd, Ste. 202
Framingham, MA 01701


Phone: (508) 879-7625
Fax: (508) 879-7628

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