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Course Description

Understanding the relationship between health and literacy is essential to the development of effective health communication. National assessments of adult literacy have raised serious concerns about the ability of nearly half the adult population in the U.S. to access and use health information and services (NALS 1992, NAAL 2003, PIAAC 2012). Low health literacy is a barrier to effective health communication, affects health care quality and contributes to health disparities. To address these issues the Institute of Medicine calls for increasing "knowledge, awareness, and responsiveness to health literacy among health service providers" (IOM 2005). The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends that health service providers be trained in health literacy, plain language, and culturally and linguistically appropriate services (CLAS) and use those skills to create patienti-centered best practices (DHHS, 2010).To raise awareness among health professionals regarding health literacy as a public health priority, the Health Communication Program at the Tufts University School of Medicine offers a skills oriented seminar in health literacy. This course explores the link between literacy, language and culture and how systems barriers impact access to health information and quality health care services. Students practice writing and speaking in plain language, and consider how to apply health literacy research to practice. The course provides an overview of the health literacy interventions being tried in a variety of sectors and explores opportunities for collaboration across fields.

Affiliated With:

  • School of Medicine - Public Health & Professional Degrees