More than 75 million English-speaking Americans have trouble understanding health information and making healthcare decisions, according to the report.
“Ensuring that people understand healthcare information is critical to a high-quality, safe healthcare system,” said Dr. Carolyn Clancy, AHRQ's director. “Improving health literacy will be a major step in the nation's efforts to enhance healthcare quality and safety.”
The newly released report is an update of a previous one, released in 2004, and it contains data from more than 100 new studies. In particular, the updated version points to growing evidence of a link between racial and ethnic disparities and health literacy.
In May, HHS released its National Action Plan to Improve Health Literacy, which lists a variety of goals, including the use of simpler language in medical forms and on healthcare-related websites, and better communication between providers and patients.