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Bosworth HB. Challenges and strategies to improve patient health literacy and competencies. Patient Intelligence. 2010 Aug 13; 2010(2):19-25.
Health literacy continues to be a significant public health problem with more than a third of Americans having difficulties understanding basic health information. While a number of factors are associated with health literacy, in light of soaring health care costs, further examination of ways to identify and reduce the impact of poor health literacy are essential. To this end, this review of health literacy includes details on numeracy, summarizes why health literacy is crucial in the health care setting, the impact of poor health literacy, and the correlates of poor health literacy. In addition, ways to identify poor health literacy are discussed and summarized and successful methods in reducing the impact of health literacy are provided. Given that successful management of many acute or chronic health conditions is influenced by patients' understanding of relevant health information, providing additional support to individuals who have difficulty understanding this information can positively influence health outcomes.