Improving comprehension for cancer patients with low literacy skills: strategies for clinicians

CA Cancer J Clin. May-Jun 1998;48(3):151-62. doi: 10.3322/canjclin.48.3.151.


This paper provides strategies to improve communication between clinicians and patients, particularly patients who are among the 44 million adult Americans with low literacy skills. Included are insights into the nature of the literacy problem and how it affects patient comprehension of information across the continuum of cancer care. Practical strategies address how to help patients understand medical advice, reduce literacy levels of cancer information, and help patients remember the advice given. A summary of the strategies is included in the Appendix for convenient reference.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Communication*
  • Educational Status*
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Pamphlets
  • Patient Compliance
  • Patient Education as Topic*
  • Physician-Patient Relations*
  • Reading