A Healthy Blog

Massachusetts health care — wonky, with a healthy dose of reality

Great New Health Literacy Resource

Great New Health Literacy Resource

June 18, 2006

If you don't know Helen Osborne, then you don't know one of the most practical and smart experts on Health Literacy around. Helen runs her own health literacy consulting practice in Natick and is the founding director of health literacy month (October), an international campaign to raise awareness about the important of understandable health information.

Just got hold of Helen's new book -- Health Literacy from A to Z -- and it's first rate, with loads of useful information and insight, an indispensible resource for anyone who wants to understand and work on this issue.

The Institute of Medicine estimates there are at least 90 million adult Americans with low health literacy, meaning they can't understand a prescription label or an appointment slip, or can't understand instructions from the medical professional. More than race, ethnicity, or income, a person's health literacy skill is the most important predictor of health status. And the financial consequences are huge. It also intersects with the important issue of racial and ethnic health disparities.

Rep. Liz Malia has filed state legislation to set up a special state commission to study and report on ways to improve health literacy in Massachusetts.

What do you know and think about this issue?