Health Literacy & Patient Education

Module 1: Why Should You Use Plain Language to Communicate with Patients and the Public?

Module 1 Resources

In module 1, we'll cover why you should use plain language, also known as lay language, to communicate with your patients or the general public. Contents include:

  • Definitions of health literacy and plain language
  • Health literacy levels in the United States
  • Examine the relationship between health literacy and patient outcomes
  • Learn to recognize and meet the needs of patients with low health literacy skills using either validated tools or adopting the Health Literacy Universal Precautions approach

Links to resources covered in Module 1:


Module 2: Measuring Readability of Written Materials

Module 2 Resources

In module 2, we'll cover readability, an important component of creating materials that are understandable to people with varying health literacy levels.Contents include:

  • What is readability?
  • How readability formulas work
  • Factors that affect readability
  • Recommended reading grade levels
  • Ways to calculate reading grade level of materials

Links to resources covered in Module 2:

Module 3: Developing Patient Education Materials

Module 3 Resources

In module 3, we'll cover resources that can assist you in developing patient education materials..Contents include:

  • A selection of plain language tools
  • Review of best practices for formatting and writing patient education materials
  • Using or modifying existing materials
  • Two tools to help you develop and revise materials

Links to resources covered in Module 3:

Module 4: Clear Communication Techniques

Module 4 Resources

In module 4, we'll cover putting plain language into practice through effective communication.Contents include:

  • Effective patient-provider interactions
  • Substituting words for better comprehension
  • Best practices including the Teach-Back Method

Links to resources covered in Module 4:

Module 5: Sources of Health Information for Your Patients

Module 5 Resources

In module 5, we'll cover recommended free, reliable, and authoritative online sources of health information that you can refer your patients or their families to, as well as information on how the library and librarians can be of assistance..Contents include:

  • Consumer Health site from the National Library of Medicine, one of the National Institutes of Health
  • Consumer Health site from the Health Sciences Library (HSL), University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
  • "Ask a Librarian" service from the HSL

Links to resources covered in Module 5: