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Brown ArrowHealth Literacy and Cultural Competence

Health Literacy is defined in the National Library of Medicine's Current Bibliographies in Medicine: Health Literacy as "the degree to which individuals have the capacity to obtain, process, and understand basic health information and services needed to make appropriate health decisions" (Selden, Zorn, Ratzan, Parker, 2000)

Cultural and linguistic competence is a set of congruent behaviors, attitudes, and policies that come together in a system, agency, or among professionals that enables effective work in cross-cultural situations. 'Culture' refers to integrated patterns of human behavior that include the language, thoughts, communications, actions, customs, beliefs, values, and institutions of racial, ethnic, religious, or social groups. 'Competence' implies having the capacity to function effectively as an individual and an organization within the context of the cultural beliefs, behaviors, and needs presented by consumers and their communities.” (at Center for Linguistic and Cultural Competence in Health Care, cited 11/13/2013)

A specialized search for published research in PubMed has been developed to help inform investigations of health literacy. An extensive list of health literacy resources is also featured on this website.

Health Literacy and Cultural Competence News

Data, Tools, and Statistics

  • The "SMOG" Readability Test (2008) images/pdf.gif icon - (University of South Carolina. Arnold School of Public Health USA)  - This tool assists in the assessment of readability in written documents.
  • CMS Health Literacy Toolkit - (Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS))  - Provides a detailed and comprehensive set of tools to help make written material in printed formats easier for people to read, understand, and use.
  • Cultural Competency - (Office of Minority Health (OMH))  - Resources on cultural comptency and removing language and cultural barriers to health care for limited English-speaking populations.
  • Culture, Language and Health Literacy - (Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA))  - This collection of resources, including toolkits, videos, and workbooks, is aimed at healthcare providers, to enable them to better address the cultural, language and health literacy needs of their consumers.
  • Fry's Readability Graph - (Iowa Department of Public Health)  - This tool assists in assessing document readability.
  • Gunning-FOG Formula - (Iowa Department of Public Health)  - This tool provides a calculation for assessing document readability.
  • Health Communication, Health Literacy, and e-Health - (Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, HHS (ODPHP))  - The Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion (ODPHP) has pulled together key tools, research and reports, and resources for public health and health communication professionals.
  • Health Literacy Activities by State - (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC))  - This set of links provides information on local organizations and local government activities in the area of health literacy.
  • Health Literacy Online - (Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, HHS (ODPHP))  - Guide for writing and designing easy-to-use health websites.
  • Health Literacy Universal Precautions Toolkit - (Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ))  - This toolkit is designed to assist primary care practices by providing a method to assess their services for health literacy considerations, raise awareness of the entire staff, and work on specific problem areas.
  • National Action Plan to Improve Health Literacy - (Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) U.S.)  - The National Action Plan to Improve Health Literacy seeks to engage organizations, professionals, policymakers, communities, individuals, and families in a linked, multisector effort to improve health literacy.
  • Pubmed Health: Health Literacy - (National Library of Medicine (NLM) U.S.)  - PubMed Health provides access to reviews of clinical effectiveness research, in this case relevant to health information literacy.
  • Quick Guide to Health Literacy - (Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, HHS (ODPHP))  - Provides an overview of health literacy concepts and techniques for improving health literacy. Designed for government employees, grantees and contractors, and community partners working in healthcare and public health fields. The tools can be applied to healthcare delivery, policy, administration, communication, and education activities aimed at the public.
  • Tool for Health Plans to Assess their Health Literacy Programs - (America's Health Insurance Plans (AHIP))  - Developed by Emory University researcher Dr. Julie Gazmararian, working with the AHIP Health Literacy Task Force, this tool allows health plans to assess their health literacy programs and to use the assessments in the development and advancement of their initiatives.

Grants, Fellowships, Funding

  • Understanding and Promoting Health Literacy (R01) - (National Institutes of Health (NIH))  - The goal of this program announcement is to encourage methodological, intervention and dissemination research for understanding and promoting health literacy.
  • Understanding and Promoting Health Literacy (R21) - (National Institutes of Health (NIH))  - The goal of this program announcement is to encourage methodological, intervention and dissemination research for understanding and promoting health literacy.

Guidelines, Journals, Other Publications

  • Health Literacy Fact Sheets - (Center for Health Care Strategies (CHCS) USA)  - This series of fact sheets was developed to assist clinicians, patient advocates, and other stakeholders in improving care for individuals with low health literacy.
  • Literacy and Health in America images/pdf.gif icon - (Educational Testing Service (ETS) USA)  - This policy information report from 2004 builds on two prior reports to demonstrate the effects of literacy on health status.
  • Research-based Health Literacy Materials and Instruction Guide - (National Institute for Literacy US)  - These health literacy materials meet both the need of adults to enhance their literacy skills as well as their need to navigate the health care system and begin to achieve better health care for themselves and their families.

Education

  • Cultural Competence Education images/pdf.gif icon - (Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC))  - These educational standards were developed to introduce cultural competence into the medical curriculum.
  • Health Literacy for Public Health Professionals - (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC))  - Free web-based course to educate public health professionals on the importance of health literacy and their role in providing health information and services and promoting public health literacy.
  • Health Literacy Out Loud Podcasts - (Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ))  - This series of podcasts looks at various aspects of health literacy. The podcasts can be listened to here, or downloaded via ITunes.

Meetings/ Conferences /Webinars

Past Meetings

  • Health Literacy Out Loud - (Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ))  - Podcast Interviews with those in the know about health literacy.

Upcoming Meetings

Key Organizations

  • Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality - AHRQ provides important resources aimed at improving health literacy as it pertains to prevention, healthy living, chronic disease management, patient-centered health care, cultural competence, and health disparities.
  • Bridging the Health Literacy Gap - (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC))  - CDC's blog posts detailing important events on issues related to health literacy. Companion to the CDC's comprehensive Health Literacy site and resources
  • Center for Linguistic and Cultural Competence - (Office of Minority Health (OMH))  - The mission of OMH is to improve and protect the health of racial and ethnic minority populations through the development of health policies and programs that will eliminate health disparities and promote cultural competency, through the Center for Linguistic and Cultural Competence. OMH also supports the OMHRC Knowledge Center Library, an extensive searchable resource.
  • Clear Communication: A NIH Health Literacy Initiative - (National Institutes of Health (NIH))  - The NIH Clear Communication Initiative focuses on tools and resources that address health literacy particularly as it relates to conveying scientific information and research: 1) Providing information in the form and with the content that is accessible to specific audiences based on cultural competence; and 2) Incorporating plain language approaches and new technologies.
  • Healthy People 2020: Health Communication and Health Information Technology - The Healthy People 2020 goals provide a science-based, 10-year national objectives for improving the health of all Americans. Among the goals are those aimed at 1)improving the health literacy of the population, and 2)increasing the proportion of persons who report that their health care providers have satisfactory communication skills.
  • IoM Roundtable on Health Literacy - (Institute of Medicine (IOM))  - This Roundtable is comprised of representatives from academia, industry, government, foundations, and associations, as well as from patient and consumer interests.
  • National Center for Cultural Competence - (National Center for Cultural Competence (NCCC))  - The National Center for Cultural Competence (NCCC) provides national leadership and contributes to the body of knowledge on cultural and linguistic competency within systems and organizations. Major emphasis is placed on translating evidence into policy and practice for programs and personnel concerned with health and mental health care delivery, administration, education and advocacy.
  • Office of Behavioral and Social Science Research - (National Institutes of Health (NIH))  - The mission of this office is to stimulate behavioral and social sciences research throughout NIH and to integrate these areas of research more fully into others of the NIH health research enterprise, thereby improving our understanding, treatment, and prevention of disease.
  • Office of Minority Health (OMH) - (Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) U.S.)  - The mission of the Office of Minority Health (OMH) is to improve and protect the health of racial and ethnic minority populations through the development of health policies and programs that will eliminate health disparities. Detailed information on cultural competency can be found on this site.