Click here to learn more about National Minority Health Month.

This week’s key findings in health literacy and health communication research include:


  • Older adult patients with cognitive dysfunction have difficulty with health literacy assessments.
  • Limited health literacy is a barrier to participation in England’s colorectal cancer (CRC) screening program.
  • Many senior patients struggle to follow medication regimens because they are too complicated and confusing.

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Last week the Herschel S. Horowitz Center for Health Literacy spread the word about health literacy at two events on the University of Maryland, College Park campus during National Public Health Week.


Lisa Bowen, graduate student, and her poster “Improving Health Literacy and Cultural Competency of FDA Consumer Materials: Hepatitis C”

On April 8, 2014, the University of Maryland School of Public Health hosted the second annual Public Health Research at Maryland Day.

Event attendees consisted of students and faculty from the University of Maryland, College Park and the University of Maryland, Baltimore, as well as community, state and federal partners.

Students and faculty shared their research during a poster session. Some of the poster categories included:

  • Health Literacy, Health Communications, Health Education
  • Family Health, Child Health, Adolescent Health
  • Health Care, Access, Insurance
  • Health Disparities

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Watch this video about how Sexton Elementary in St. Petersburg, Florida makes school lunches healthy and fun with the help of a “wacky” cafeteria manager. They also integrate exercise and physical activity throughout the school day. With the support of the Alliance for a Healthier Generation’s Healthy Schools Program, Sexton is able to help students learn about health.

We all know how confusing health literacy can be. But, would cartoons help people understand more? Helen Osborne has a podcast where she discusses just that with MK Czerwiec, a nurse who makes comics.

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MK Czerwiec has a comic website called Comic Nurse and she also co-runs Graphic Medicine with Dr. Ian Williams, who also makes comics. Graphic Medicine is a “site that explores the interaction between the medium of comics and the discourse of healthcare.”

Listen to the podcast “Comics and Medicine: That’s Health Literacy, Too” to learn about:

  • How comics can be used to communicate about health, illness, and medicine
  • Why comics have been found to be effective in reaching diverse audiences
  • Resources to learn more about making and using comics in healthcare

A new workshop summary on Health Literacy and Numeracy is now available from the Institute of Medicine (IOM)  Roundtable on Health Literacy.

The paper “Numeracy and the Affordable Care Act: Opportunities and Challenges” [PDF] was presented at the workshop and addressed the following questions:

  1. What does research show about people’s numeracy skill levels?
  2. What kinds of numeracy skills are needed to select a health plan, choose treatments, and understand medication instructions?
  3. What do we know about how providers should communicate with those with low numeracy skills?

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Watch this video where Dr. James Kiley discusses the importance of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) awareness. Learn more about COPD and the Learn More Breathe Better® program by the NIH Heart, Lung and Blood Institute.

This week’s key findings in health literacy and health communication research include:

Research Roundup

  • An evaluation of a clear communication curriculum found that medical professionals who received the training had significantly more knowledge, familiarity and confidence communicating with low health literacy patients.
  • The average readability level of the most common Internet resources for surgical treatments for breast cancer was 12.9, much higher than the recommended readability level of 6.
  • Researchers found that performance on measures of intellectual abilities, academic skills, and health knowledge (also known as the ASK model) was related to performance on health literacy measures.


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