"Health Literacy in America" (2014)


Sarah Graveline '14

Science PreProfessional Major and CST Minor

Advisor: Professor Todd Whitmore


Sarah Graveline

"'Health Literacy in America' looks at the rates of health literacy among adults in America, how it affects individual health outcomes, and one possible solution to improve health literacy skills. Health literacy goes beyond basic literacy skills and includes the ability to understand and act on health information provided to them. Health literacy skills are important to asses because low health literacy skills have been shown to lead to low comprehension which puts the individual at an increased risk for non-adherence with medication, hospitalization, and poor health outcomes, which in turn increases costs for the individual and healthcare system.  More than one third of Americans have low health literacy skills and it is the responsibility of the healthcare system and providers to meet the needs of this population.  To improve communication between healthcare providers and low health literacy patients, I recreated the Center for Disease Control’s brochure on asthma and made it low health literacy “friendly” by using helpful pictures and diagrams, common language, and specific actions steps. The purpose of this new brochure is to improve the patient’s understanding of their condition as well as empower them with knowledge and give them the confidence to ask questions and facilitate a discussion with their healthcare providers. This improvement in written communication provided to patients with low health literacy is simply one way to meet the needs of this population and ultimately serve the common good."