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Health Literacy in the United States: Enhancing Assessments and Reducing Disparities

Lopez, Claude and Kim, Bumyang and Sacks, Katherine (2022): Health Literacy in the United States: Enhancing Assessments and Reducing Disparities.

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Abstract

Literacy plays a central role in health and health care. A person’s level of health literacy influences their health-related behaviors along with their ability to navigate the complexities of the health-care system. The level of health literacy of individuals or communities often mirrors disparities in society. Low health literacy is frequently associated with other determinants: social and economic factors that reinforce health inequities. To close the gaps, ensuring adequate health literacy throughout the entire population is a public heath priority.

Unfortunately, and despite the increased attention of several HHS agencies in recent years, there is a fair amount of confusion surrounding the scope and definition of Health Literacy in the US, the appropriate approach to assess its current levels, and the most effective means to improve it. In “Health Literacy in the US,” we bring clarity to the debate on this crucial topic. The review and analysis of the main studies, surveys, and indicators allow us to identy several gaps between the assessment of Health Literacy, the policies implemented and the monitoring their progress. We offers few policy recommendations that would help overcome some of these challenges.

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