Health and Human Services introduces new National Action Plan to Improve Health Literacy

Health Literacy GraphicOn May 27 the US Department of Health and Human Services released its National Action Plan to Improve Health Literacy. The plan includes seven goals that rely on the participation of health professionals, payers, the media and government agencies.

With the release of the plan, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius placed the issue of health literacy in the context of health reform: “Health literacy is needed to make health reform a reality. Without health information that makes sense to them, people can’t access cost effective, safe, and high quality health services.”

The National Action Plan is available at A recent interview with the National Action Plan’s lead author, Cynthia Baur, is available as a podcast at

Keith Cogdill
Director of South Texas Regional Information Services

Seven goals to improve health literacy:

1. Develop and disseminate health and safety information that is accurate, accessible, and actionable

2. Promote changes in the health care system that improve health information, communication, informed decision making, and access to health services

3. Incorporate accurate, standards-based, and developmentally appropriate health and science information and curricula in child care and education through the university level

4. Support and expand local efforts to provide adult education, English language instruction, and culturally and linguistically appropriate health information services in the community

5. Build partnerships, develop guidance, and change policies

6. Increase basic research and the development, implementation, and evaluation of practices and interventions to improve health literacy

7. Increase the dissemination and use of evidence-based health literacy practices and interventions