Click to view the video we made in honor of Health Literacy Month!
Click for fellowship nomination details.

Dr. Rima E. Rudd, health literacy scholar

The Herschel S. Horowitz Center for Health Literacy announces its 2015 Rima E. Rudd Fellowship for doctoral candidates. This fellowship is intended to support the next generation of researchers who advance the science of health literacy. Doctoral candidates from all backgrounds, disciplines and units in the University of Maryland System are encouraged to apply. (Deadline is noon, February 16, 2015!) The Fellowship carries an annual stipend of up to $30,000 and candidacy tuition remission (if not covered by other tuition remission). Find out about the nomination submission process for the Rima E. Rudd Fellowship in Health Literacy.

Please welcome the new Health Literacy Maryland Executive Committee!

The Executive Committee will work towards the mission of improving health outcomes through health literacy in the State of Maryland. The committee will create new and timely projects in the areas of community, policy, and education within health literacy; raise awareness in health literacy policies and practices; and develop exciting community project in the State.

Health Literacy Maryland is a new statewide coalition that brings together people and organizations to work on improving health outcomes by focusing on health literacy. Many people have low health literacy, which means they have trouble understanding health information they get from health care providers, the news and media, and government. HLM, a free membership coalition, works with health care organizations, government agencies, and community based organizations to improve access to good health information, create ways to better understand health information, and offer opportunities to use health information to improve health outcomes. Click here to learn more about Health Literacy Maryland and how to join!

Below are bios of each of the HLM leaders. All have done extraordinary work in the field of health literacy.

Chair, Izione Silva, Ph.D.

Dr. Izione Silva is a sociolinguist with diverse health care and educational experiences. She champions the delivery of health literate care, which includes addressing the social determinants of health. She is committed to disparities reduction and patient empowerment, especially, among limited-English proficient and culturally diverse populations with low health literacy.IS

She recently served as the subject matter expert on health literacy and culture at the CMS National Disparities Coordinating Center. She wrote articles on health literacy, presented on health literacy and its relationship to patient engagement and health outcomes, and planned and facilitated national webinars on community engagement. Dr. Silva previously played a variety of roles at the Primary Care Coalition of Montgomery County (PCC). She promoted health literacy to leadership and staff and advocated for infusion of health literacy practices in PCC’s healthcare programs. She conceptualized and implemented an empowerment program for Spanish-speaking women with poorly controlled diabetes and low health literacy. Over half of the participants improved their hemoglobin A1c values in this health literacy oriented, patient-centered, linguistically and culturally appropriate educational intervention.

Earlier, Dr. Silva held positions in the educational sector, including teaching ESL, Portuguese, and Linguistics at the secondary and university levels. She trained teachers in bilingual education and developed a Portuguese language curriculum for the U.S. State Department’s Foreign Service Institute. As a team member on World Bank missions in Guinea-Bissau (West Africa) and Mozambique (East Africa), she assessed the quality of teacher-training programs, gender disparities in educational access, and the role of native languages in education.

Dr. Silva was an early participant in the formation of Health Literacy Maryland, chairing a working group of its Steering Committee and serving as Vice Chair of the Executive Team. She holds a B.A. in French from the University of Massachusetts, an M.S. in Portuguese, and a Ph.D. in Sociolinguistics from Georgetown University. She is fluent in Portuguese, French, Spanish, and Capeverdean Crioulo.

Vice Chair, John Welby, M.S.,

John Welby picture (1)Director, Maryland Oral Health Literacy Campaign, Office of Oral Health, Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene

John has worked in health care communications and marketing for more than 30 years. He received his M.S. in Communication from Clarion University in Clarion, Pennsylvania. He has written and produced numerous advertising, social marketing, health education and literacy campaigns for hospitals and health care organizations throughout the nation and has worked for the Indiana University School of Medicine, Richmond Community Hospital, the National Institutes of Health, The Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions. John has received numerous awards for his work and believes that communicating about health is a privilege and advocates for truth and understanding in all health care communication.

Secretary, Chanel Agness, PharmD, BCPS, CGP, FASCP 

Dr. Chanel Agness received her Bachelor of Science (BS) and Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) degree from Rutgers University. She completed a maagnessnaged care pharmacy practice residency with Kaiser Permanente, Mid-Atlantic States, and a primary care specialty residency at the Baltimore Veterans Affairs Medical Center, focused in the area of chronic disease state management. Dr. Agness is a board certified pharmacotherapy specialist (BCPS) and certified geriatric pharmacist (CGP). She currently serves as residency program director for the PGY2 – Geriatrics Residency Program. Her practice and teaching specialties include geriatric pharmacotherapy and chronic kidney disease. She has practiced in a number of ambulatory and community settings providing services to older adults in the Baltimore area. Her current practice sites include the Geriatric Education and Medication Management (GEM) Clinic and the ambulatory nephrology clinic at the Baltimore Veterans Affairs and in Baltimore, Maryland.

Congratulations to our Health Literacy Heroes! In honor of Health Literacy Month, the Health Literacy Maryland coalition nominated and identified an individual, a team, and an organization that have shown dedication and service in addressing health literacy in the State of Maryland. These awardees addressed a serious health literacy problem, and worked tirelessly to create a solution. Below are our Health Literacy Heroes! Please click on each link to learn more about the extraordinary work of our health literacy heroes.

Individual Category

Jann Keenan from the Keenan Group, Inc. – Experts in Health Literacy

Team Category

Med-Check Passport Team:

The Delmarva Foundation: Madeleine Shea, Ph.D., Disparities National Coordinating Center; Jennifer Thomas, PharmD, Delmarva Foundation

University of Maryland School of Pharmacy in Baltimore: Chanel F. Agness, PharmD, BCPS, CGP; Leah Sera, PharmD, BCPS; Regina Atim, PharmD; Peter Barakat, PharmD Candidate

University of Maryland School of Pharmacy in the Eastern Shore: Hoai-An Truong, PharmD, MPH; Lana Saad, PharmD, BS Pharm; Rosemary Botchway, MSHCA

Notre Dame of Maryland University School of Pharmacy: Regine Beliard, PharmD, BCACP; Jennifer Bailey, PharmD; Min Kwon, PharmD, BCPS; Ashley Wensil, PharmD, BCPS

Organization Category

Lisa Bress and Dental Hygiene Students at the Department of Dental Hygiene, School of Dentistry


The heroes will formally be honored at the 2015 Health Literacy Maryland Annual Meeting.

This weeks findings on health literacy include:

  • An exploratory study of inactive health information seekers.
  • Communicative and critical health literacy play a role in successful self-management of chronic disease but the impact differs by context.
  • A study showing that for epileptic patients who do not desire surgical treatment, sensitive counseling about risks and benefits of surgery can be beneficial in addressing preexisting and exaggerated views of surgery.


Kim, S. (2014). An Exploratory Study of Inactive Health Information Seekers.International Journal of Medical Informatics.

Key Finding: “Healthier people are not likely to respond to active information seeking. People with less media exposure in health issues are inactive information seekers. Slightly less than 60% of the respondents were clustered as Inactive Seekers. Further research should pay close attention to why people do not seek out health information. Profiles of people who are not seeking health information are not simply the reverse of people who are seeking health information.”


Heijmans, M., Waverijn, G., Rademakers, J., van der Vaart, R., & Rijken, M. (2014). Functional, communicative and critical health literacy of chronic disease patients and their importance for self-management. Patient Education and Counseling.

Key Finding: “20% of chronic disease patients experiences difficulties with respect to functional or communicative health literacy; 50% reported problems with respect to critical health literacy.” “Functional, communicative and critical health literacy each impact in a unique way on (the abilities for) self-management, although in general communicative and critical health literacy are stronger predictors for successful self-management than functional health literacy.”


Zuccato, J. A., Milburn, C. and Valiante, T. A. (2014), Balancing health literacy about epilepsy surgery in the community. Epilepsia. doi: 10.1111/epi.1279Top of FormBottom of Form

Key Finding: “A significant portion of those with active epilepsy in the community do not desire surgical treatment. Passive knowledge translation regarding the risks and benefits enhanced optimistic attitudes and mobilized interest within a subset of participants. Preexisting views regarding the risks of surgery were exaggerated, and analysis suggests that these views can be modified with information about the benefits of surgery.”


Stacy Robison head shotDon’t fret! Click here to view the PowerPoint presentation on: ‘Designing for Health Information: What every health professional needs to know.’ Participants learned about:

  • Grids and how to use them
  • Visual hierarchy
  • Using white space wisely,
  • And so much more!

You can also hear a recording of the webinar here.

The overarching message from Stacy is to keep the design clean!

Stacy Robison, President and co-founder of CommunicateHealth Inc. started the business at age 30… in her attic. Six short years later, CommunicateHealth has 40 employees — and an impressive roster of government and private sector clients. Click here to learn more about Stacy and her team!

CAMPAIGN Dientes Sanos, Niños Sanos


In 2012 Maryland’s first statewide oral health literacy campaign, “Healthy Teeth, Health Kids” was announced, with aims to assist children who are eligible for Medicaid to gain access to dental care. Although tooth decay is completely preventable, it is a very common childhood disease in our nation. This problem is especially common among underserved children and many eligible for dental care through Medicaid lack access to services. “Healthy Teeth, Health Kids” aims to reach parents and caregivers throughout community outreach including local health department, federally qualified health centers, radio, Internet, television and public transit advertisements.

Now the program is expanding its reach and from September 15th until the end of November the Maryland Dental Action Coalition (MDAC) and UnitedHealthcare are launching a multimedia campaign called Dientes Sanos, Niños Sanos to educate Hispanic mothers about oral health.

“The goal of Dientes Sanos, Niños Sanos is to reduce oral disease among Hispanic children by increasing healthy behaviors and improving access to critically needed oral health care.”


For more information and for resources in both Spanish and English check out


Health Literacy Month VIDEO!

October 17, 2014

With celebrating Health Literacy Month, we went around the University of Maryland campus and asked students about their understanding of health literacy and its importance. Utilizing a quick skill screening, we were also able to assess their levels of health literacy.