National Institutes of Health
People make choices about their health every day, such as what they eat or how they exercise. In order to stay healthy, Americans must know how to read the labels on food and medicine, describe symptoms, or use a map to locate the closest health center. The ability to read, understand, and act on health information is called health literacy. On September 7, 2006, Acting Surgeon General Kenneth Moritsugu held a Surgeon General's Workshop on Improving Health Literacy. The goal of the workshop was to present the state of the science in the field of health literacy from a variety of perspectives, including those of health care organizations and providers, the research community, and educators. During the course of the one-day workshop, participants identified the public health consequences of limited health literacy and established an evidence base for taking action. This report highlights the panel's discussion, findings, and conclusions - which have an impact on all persons working in the field of healthcare and interacting daily with patients and their families.
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