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Health Literacy: Can Your Patient Read,
Understand,
and Act Upon Your Instruction?

Health Literacy: Can Your Patient Read, Understand, and Act Upon Your Instruction?


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by Joanne G. Schwartzberg, M.D.
At the start of the 21st century in one of the wealthiest and most sophisticated societies on earth, we have discovered a most unpalatable truth: approximately half of Americans have reading and computational skill deficiencies that could impede their participation and compliance in health care (see sidebar). This problem raises serious concerns about how well patients with low or marginal literacy are navigating the current health care system.