Focus on best practices in health literacy

There is so much we could do to more clearly communicate with our patients, but we have so little time.  How can we prioritize?

One study surveyed health literacy experts and compiled a list of the core set of practices that all health care professionals should learn and use routinely in clinical settings.  They are:

  1. Use teach back and show me
  2. Avoid medical jargon, and if unavoidable, define in lay terms
  3. Elicit questions with patient-centered approach
  4. Apply oral and written health literacy interventions with all patients
  5. If the patient’s preferred language is not English, use an interpreter
  6. At the beginning of encounters with patients, negotiate a mutual agenda
  7. At each encounter emphasize one to three need to know or need to do concepts
  8. At the beginning of each encounter, elicit a full list of patient’s concerns.

For more details, see

Coleman C., Hudson S., Pederson B.(2017). Prioritized Health Literacy and Clear Communication Practices For Health Care Professionals. HLRP: Health Literacy Research and Practice. 1(3) e91-e99. doi: 10.3928/24748307-20170503-01

Available from

Leave a Reply