As a result of poor health literacy, more than a third of adults in the United States have difficulty with health tasks, and low health literacy is linked to poor health outcomes, which include greater use of emergency care and higher hospitalization rates.
Health literacy has three components: print literacy (the ability to read, write and interpret), numeracy (ability to use quantitative information), and oral literacy (the ability to speak and listen effectively). All three literacy components are needed to fully understand and react to health information in a care situation.
In recognition of health literacy as a dynamic problem that involves layers of actors, multiple systems, and diverse forms of information dissemination, the OBSSR led 10 ICs and the National Library of Medicine (NLM) on three PARs to solicit projects that promote or increase our understanding of basic processes related to health literacy. ICs involved include:
National Cancer Institute (NCI)
National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB)
Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute on Child Health and Human Development (NICHD)
National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD)
National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR)
National Institute of Diabetes & Digestive & Kidney Diseases (NIDDK)
National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS)
National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD)
National Institute of Nursing Research (NINR)
Several ICs are hoping to support evaluation and intervention studies (including those geared toward patients, care providers, and staff), and research related to the role of social media, mHealth initiatives or other modes of disseminating information (e.g., the family and community involvement). For the details from each IC, go to Understanding and Promoting Health Literacy.