Health literacy is the degree to which individuals can obtain, process, and understand the basic health information and services they need to make appropriate health decisions. Nearly half of all American adults—90 million people—have inadequate health literacy to navigate the health care system (IOM, 2004).
The Institute of Medicine convened the Roundtable on Health Literacy to address issues raised in the report, Health Literacy: A Prescription to End Confusion (IOM, 2004). The roundtable brings together leaders from the federal government, foundations, health plans, associations, and private companies to discuss challenges facing health literacy practice and research and to identify approaches to promote health literacy in both the public and private sectors. The roundtable also serves to educate the public, press, and policy makers regarding issues related to health literacy. The roundtable sponsors workshops for members and the public to discuss approaches to resolve key challenges.
An area of interest for the roundtable is the implications of health literacy for public health. As a result, the roundtable sponsored a workshop in Irvine, California, on November 21, 2013, that focused on the implications of health literacy for the mission and essential services of public health. The workshop featured the presentation of a commissioned paper on health literacy activities under way in public health organizations. Other presentations examined the implications of health literacy for the mission and essential services of public health, for example, community health and safety, disease prevention, disaster management, or health communication.
The workshop was organized by an independent planning committee
in accordance with the procedures of the National Academy of Sciences.1 The planning group included Olivia Carter-Pokras, Jennifer Dillaha, Patrick McGarry, Andrew Pleasant, Lindsey Robinson, Rima Rudd, and Steven Rush. The role of the workshop planning committee was limited to planning the workshop. Planning committee members developed the agenda topics, and selected and invited expert speakers and discussants to address identified topics. Unlike a consensus committee report, a workshop summary may not contain conclusions and recommendations. Therefore, this summary has been prepared by the workshop rapporteurs as a factual summary of what occurred at the workshop. All views presented in the report are those of workshop participants. The report does not contain any findings or recommendations by the planning committee or the roundtable.
The workshop was moderated by Roundtable Chair George Isham. Chapter 2 frames health literacy in the context of public health. Chapter 3 describes public health literacy efforts in three states. In Chapter 4, how health literacy facilitates public health activity is further explored. Chapter 5 covers public health literacy implementation and research. Chapter 6 follows with a general discussion of the day’s proceedings.
IOM (Institute of Medicine). 2004. Health literacy: A prescription to end confusion. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.
1 The planning committee’s role was limited to planning the workshop. The workshop summary has been prepared by the rapporteurs as a factual account of what occurred at the workshop. Statements, recommendations, and opinions expressed are those of individual presenters and participants and are not necessarily endorsed or verified by the Institute of Medicine. They should not be construed as reflecting any group consensus.