Health literacy is the ability to read, understand, and act on health care information.
Healthy People 2010 defines health literacy as
the degree to which individuals have the capacity to obtain, process, and understand basic health information and services needed to make appropriate health decisions.
The AMA Council of Scientific Affairs more specifically defines functional health literacy as
the ability to read and comprehend prescription bottles, appointment slips, and the other essential health-related materials required to successfully function as a patient.