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June 15, 2006

Understanding and Promoting Health Literacy (HHS)

Research grant applications on health literacy

Deadline: October 13, 2006

The goal of this Program Announcement is to increase scientific understanding of the nature of health literacy and its relationship to healthy behaviors, illness prevention and treatment, chronic disease management, health disparities, risk assessment of environmental factors, and health outcomes including mental and oral health. Increased scientific knowledge of interventions that can strengthen health literacy and improve the positive health impacts of communications between healthcare and public health professionals (including dentists, healthcare delivery organizations, and public health entities), and consumer or patient audiences that vary in health literacy, is needed. Such knowledge will help enable healthcare and public health systems serve individuals and populations more effectively, and employ strategies that reduce health disparities in the population. Healthy People 2010 defines health literacy 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" (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2000). Many factors affect individuals' ability to comprehend, and in turn use or act on, health information and communication. Proficiency in reading, writing, listening, interpreting, oral communication, and visual analysis is necessary as the modern health system typically relies on a variety of interpersonal, textual, and electronic media to present health information. Individuals and families both must be able to: communicate with health professionals; understand the health information in mass communication; understand how to use health-related print, audiovisual, graphical and electronic materials; understand basic health concepts (e.g., many health problems can be prevented or minimized) and vocabulary
(e.g., about the body, diseases, medical treatments, etc.); and connect this health-related knowledge to health decision-making and action-taking. Access to and understanding of health information and services is a reciprocal process among health professionals, communication professionals and patients. For instance, these professionals must use science-based strategies and tactics, develop resources and materials, and understand communication interactions between providers and patients. Research on health literacy should assist NIH in its mission of communicating scientifically-based health information to the public and to the health care providers and related professionals who serve the public.

Posted by sharum at June 15, 2006 1:29 PM