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Addressing Low Health Literacy: Improve Patient Outcomes Without Adding Time

A physician with a large binder talks to a female patient in front of a wall that says Resource Center.

About This Activity

Program Overview

Health literacy is the ability to access, understand, and use health information and involves reading, writing, listening, verbal communication, and numeracy skills. Thirty-six percent of U.S. adults have low health literacy, making it harder to understand and act on basic health information. For example, many American adults struggle to understand instructions on prescription drug bottles, doctors' notes, appointment slips, consent forms, and educational brochures. Inadequate health literacy can lead to numerous negative effects on health, including increased utilization of health services and decreased likelihood of receiving preventive care.

Educational Objectives

After completing this internet enduring material, participants should be able to:

  • Describe communication best practices designed to improve patients’ understanding.
  • Adopt time-saving health literacy methods.
  • Use plain language as part of good health literacy practices.


Cliff Coleman, MD, MPH

Associate Professor of Family Medicine, School of Medicine

Oregon Health & Science University

Dr. Cliff Coleman is a family doctor who specializes in caring for patients with complex medical conditions as well as meeting the growing health needs of underserved populations. He is a national expert in the fields of health literacy and doctor-patient communication. Dr. Coleman conducts research and provides training for health care professionals and medical students in these areas.

Enduring Material Detail

Released On

February 24, 2021

Expires On

February 25, 2022

Media Type

Internet enduring material

Completion Time

60 minutes

Credit Available

Maximum of 1 AMA PRA Category 1 Credit(s)™

Target Audience

This activity is intended for physicians and healthcare professionals interested in improving the quality of the communication between doctors and patients while assessing patients' literacy levels.

Disclosure Policy 

In accordance with the ACCME Standards for Commercial Support, course directors, planning committees, faculty and all others in control of the educational content of the CME activity must disclose all relevant financial relationships with any commercial interest that they may have had within the past 12 months. If an individual refuses to disclose relevant financial relationships, they will be disqualified from being a part of the planning and implementation of this CME activity. Owners and/or employees of a commercial interest with business lines or products relating to the content of the CME activity will not be permitted to participate in the planning or execution of any accredited activity.

A complete listing of disclosures for all those involved in developing and influencing the content of this activity is below.

Last Name

Role in Activity

Commercial Interest

Nature of Financial Relationship

What Was Received

Nature of Financial Relationship

For What Role



  • None
  • N/A
  • N/A


Course Co-Director

  • None
  • N/A
  • N/A


Course Co-Director

  • None
  • N/A
  • N/A

CME Committee

CME approval, all final decision-making on courses

  • None
  • N/A
  • N/A

Scripps Conference Services & CME

Plan, manage, implement, and reconcile activity

  • None
  • N/A
  • N/A

Accreditation and Conflict of Interest Mitigation


This activity has been planned and implemented in accordance with the accreditation requirements and policies of the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME) through the joint providership of Scripps Health and Blue Shield of California. Scripps Health is accredited by the ACCME to provide continuing medical education for physicians.


Scripps Health designates this internet enduring material for a maximum of 1 AMA PRA Category 1 Credit(s)™. Physicians should only claim credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity.

Nurses and Nurse Practitioners

For the purpose of recertification, the American Nurses Credentialing Center accepts AMA PRA Category 1 Credit(s)™ issued by organizations accredited by the ACCME.

For the purpose of re-licensure, the California Board of Registered Nursing accepts AMA PRA Category 1 Credit(s)™ for attendance at structured learning activities offered by organizations accredited by the ACCME.

The American Academy of Nurse Practitioners Certified Program (AANPCP) and the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP) accept AMA PRA Category 1 Credit™ from organizations accredited by the ACCME.

Physician Assistants

PAs may claim a maximum of 1 Category 1 credits for completing this activity. NCCPA accepts AMA PRA Category 1 Credit(s)™ from organizations accredited by the ACCME.

Conflict of Interest (COI) Mitigation

All relevant financial relationships with ineligible companies listed for individuals in control of content have been mitigated using a multi-step process including independent peer review of presentations.

Event details

Content Available

Wed, Feb 24, 2021 - Fri, Feb 25, 2022

1 hour