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October is Health Literacy Month

Logo for Health Literacy Month Finding the Right Words for Better Health Health Literacy has been defined as “the degree to which individuals have the capacity to obtain, process, and understand basic health information and services needed to make appropriate health decisions” (Healthy People 2010). Yet, millions of Americans have difficulty with reading and understanding basic health information, such as interpreting over-the-counter drug labels and reading a chart to determine a child’s immunization schedule.

Founded as a grassroots initiative in 1999 by Helen Osborne, Health Literacy Month is a time for organizations and individuals worldwide to promote the importance of understandable health information. Since its beginning, there have been hundreds of awareness-raising events held across the U.S. and around the world. In previous years, Health Literacy Month events have included workshops and conferences for professionals, community programs for the public, and classes or other educational offerings for students at all levels. This year, many Health Literacy Month events are happening online as well.

Here are a few online “events” to check out during the month:

Finally, during this month, take the opportunity to introduce someone to all of the great health information resources located in MedlinePlus (http://www.medlineplus.gov/ )! Check out the health topics page devoted to  Health Literacy. The MedlinePlus homepage now also has a direct link to Easy-to-Read health topics pages (http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/all_easytoread.html) which includes  How to Write Easy-to-Read Health Materials.

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