ODPHP Health Communication
Sample Action Plan to
Improve Health Literacy
Following is a sample Action Plan to Improve Health
Literacy for a fictional organization ABC
Community Health Center. The plan can be used
as a guide for national, state, county, and
community health organizations committed to
improving health literacy. The sample plan
includes both Action Steps and specific measurable
Objectives to be used for evaluation. Consider
writing, adopting, and implementing a similar plan
in your own organization.
ABC Community Health Center
The Action Plan to Improve Health Literacy is a set
of health literacy priorities to be addressed by the
ABC Community Health Center. Health literacy
is the degree to which individuals have the capacity
to obtain, process, and understand basic health
information and services needed to make appropriate
health decisions. As one of ABC County's
principle organizations for protecting the health of
its citizens, the ABC Community Health Center is a
critical agent for improving health literacy.
Statement of the Problem:
- Nine out of 10 adults may lack the skills
needed to manage their health and prevent
disease, according to the National Assessment of
- Limited health literacy has negative
implications for health outcomes, health care
quality, and health care costs.
- ABC County residents have diverse
information needs, including those related to
cultural differences, language, age, ability,
and literacy skills, that affect their ability
to obtain, process, and understand health
information and services.
- There are numerous barriers to effective
communication between ABC Community Health
Center professionals and the public.
ABC Community Health Center Response:
The ABC Community Health Center, in accordance with
its mission, will develop, implement, and evaluate
programs and provide resources to improve health
literacy. Health Center responsibilities
include ensuring that health professionals can
obtain and provide the public with accurate and
appropriate health information. The ABC
Community Health Center will strive to address the
following five health literacy priorities.
Priority 1: Incorporate health literacy
improvement in mission, planning, and evaluation.
Identify specific programs
and projects affected by limited health literacy.
Examine the ways in which health literacy
activities can improve the effectiveness of
Include specific goals and
objectives related to improving health literacy
in the Health Center's strategic plans,
performance plans, and educational initiatives.
Include health literacy
improvement in program evaluation criteria and
itemize health literacy improvement in budget
Complete organizational health literacy "adult" or
review by December 2007. Identify the ways in
which addressing health literacy can improve program
Priority 2: Support health literacy
research, evaluation, training, and practice.
Identify health literacy
improvement in Grants and Contracts.
Recommend that all products be written in plain
language and tested with the intended users.
Encourage contractors and grantees to indicate
and evaluate how their activities contribute to
improved health literacy.
literacy research and evaluation results in
the development of practices/programs.
Include health literacy
improvement in training and orientation.
Incorporate health literacy improvement into
existing training materials for staff, grantees,
and contractors. Post and share health
Include an explicit
reference to health literacy, where appropriate,
in at least 25 percent of community grants
issues in FY08.
Priority 3: Conduct
formative, process, and outcome evaluation to design
and assess materials, messages, and resources.
Identify the intended
users. Segment users based on
epidemiologic characteristics, demographics,
literacy skills, behavior, culture, beliefs,
knowledge, attitudes, and other factors.
Acknowledge and respect
cultural differences. Cultural factors
include but are not limited to race, ethnicity,
language, nationality, beliefs, values, customs,
religion, age, ability, gender, sexual
orientation, socio-economic status, occupation,
housing status, and regional differences.
Use plain language.
Break complex information into understandable
chunks, define technical terms, and use an
Apply user-centered design
principles, including iterative testing, to
the creation of new materials, including content
on the Web.
For all new public
education initiatives launched after January
Conduct formative evaluation 100 percent of the
Conduct process evaluation 90 percent of the
Conduct outcome evaluation 60 percent of the
4: Enhance dissemination of timely, accurate,
and appropriate health information to health
professionals and the public.
Identify and/or develop
appropriate methods for information
dissemination. Consider a wide variety
of dissemination methods that could improve
people's ability to obtain reliable and relevant
health information, particularly for members of
Collaborate with adult
educators, journalists, and other
non-traditional partners to increase
the dissemination of health information to the
implement, and evaluate two public education
activities with non-traditional partners in the
community in FY08.
5: Design health literacy improvements to
healthcare and public health systems that enhance
access to health services.
Improve the usability of
medical forms and instructions. Write
or rewrite forms to ensure clarity and
simplicity. Test forms with intended users
and revise as needed. Provide forms,
signs, and services in multiple languages.
Support health literacy
and cultural competency training for
health professionals in the community, including
healthcare providers and public health
Install new easy-to-understand
signage in more than one language inside and
outside the Community Health Center by December