Health literacy awareness training for healthcare workers: improving knowledge and intentions to use clear communication techniques

Patient Educ Couns. 2011 Dec;85(3):e225-8. doi: 10.1016/j.pec.2011.02.022. Epub 2011 Apr 7.


Objective: Health literacy is a growing concern as its relationship with health outcomes becomes clearer. Efforts to enhance awareness of patient health literacy in health professional education have focused on physicians, and the objective of this research was to provide an initial assessment of a training session designed for healthcare workers of all kinds.

Methods: Pre- and post-surveys were completed by 166 participants (N=166) in training sessions designed to improve knowledge of health literacy and instruction in clear communication techniques. Participants provided baseline and post-training assessments of perceived knowledge of health literacy and use of strategies to improve communication with low health literate audiences.

Results: Participants, initially overestimating their own knowledge of health literacy, improved on outcome measures regarding perceived health literacy knowledge. Participants also indicated strong intentions to use clear communication techniques covered in the training.

Conclusion: Results suggest there is an opportunity and need to improve health literacy training for healthcare workers of all kinds. Widespread adoption of health literacy training programs would improve the delivery of healthcare to low health literate patients.

Practice implications: Participants initially overestimated their knowledge of health literacy, suggesting a need to improve initial training and continuing medical education regarding health literacy.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Communication*
  • Education, Medical, Continuing
  • Female
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Health Literacy*
  • Health Personnel / education*
  • Humans
  • Intention*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Professional-Patient Relations
  • Program Evaluation