Health literacy and chronic disease management: drawing from expert knowledge to set an agenda

Health Promot Int. 2017 Aug 1;32(4):743-754. doi: 10.1093/heapro/daw003.


Understanding the nature and impact of health literacy is a priority in health promotion and chronic disease prevention and treatment. Health literacy comprises the application of a broad set of skills to access, comprehend, evaluate, communicate and act on health information for improved health and well-being. A complex concept, it involves multiple participants and is enacted across a wide variety of contexts. Health literacy's complexity has given rise to challenges achieving a standard definition and developing means to measure all its dimensions. In May 2013, a group of health literacy experts, clinicians and policymakers convened at an Expert Roundtable to review the current state of health literacy research and practice, and make recommendations about refining its definition, expanding its measurement and integrating best practices into chronic disease management. The four-day knowledge exchange concluded that the successful integration of health literacy into policy and practice depends on the development of a more substantial evidence base. A review of the successes and gaps in health literacy research, education and interventions culminated in the identification of key priorities to further the health literacy agenda. The workshop was funded by the UBC Peter Wall Institute for Advanced Studies, Vancouver.

Keywords: chronic disease management; health literacy; measurement; policy.

MeSH terms

  • Chronic Disease / prevention & control*
  • Health Literacy / methods*
  • Health Literacy / organization & administration
  • Health Policy
  • Health Promotion / methods
  • Humans
  • Self-Management / methods