Health literacy: a second decade of distinction for Americans

J Health Commun. 2010;15 Suppl 2:20-33. doi: 10.1080/10810730.2010.501094.


Efforts to describe health literacy in the last decade have helped us define the issue and recognize that our public's skills and abilities are not adequate for successfully navigating the growing demands and complexity of healthcare. There have been significant developments in health literacy over the last decade, with milestones of progress. Much of the work done in the 1990s focused on defining health literacy, initially measuring its prevalence and subsequently looking at its associations. Since then, health literacy has grown from an issue of an under-recognized "silent epidemic" to an issue of health policy and reform. Ideas and objectives proposed have actually been adopted in recent years, with significant policy developments. This article recognizes many achievements and milestones while developing recommendations for implementation in the decade ahead.

Publication types

  • Historical Article

MeSH terms

  • Health Care Reform
  • Health Literacy / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Health Literacy / organization & administration*
  • Health Literacy / trends*
  • Health Policy
  • History, 20th Century
  • History, 21st Century
  • Humans
  • Terminology as Topic
  • United States