Revisiting health literacy and its impact on patient-physician communication

Reena Seelam Reddy, The University of Texas School of Public Health


Objective. To review professional literature on health literacy and its impact on patient-physician communication, to describe significant literature on this issue, and to summarize implications of the findings from this literature. Design. Update of a review of literature. Data sources: MEDLINE. Review Methods. Articles dealing with the impact of health literacy on patient-physician communication were selected. The articles addressed at least one of four criteria on the subject: prevalence of the problem; effect of health literacy on patient-physician communication; association of health literacy to health outcomes; and interventions to enhance communication with patients exhibiting limited health literacy. Results. Approximately 623 articles were selected for review; 87 were fully reviewed and found to be relevant to the issue; and 25 articles were cited. Conclusion. Limited health literacy is extremely widespread throughout the U.S., particularly among specific populations. Providers must be aware that patients often process health care decision making differently from their own familiar procedures and that by taking the steps to make medical language and health information simpler and the time to confirm patient understanding, health outcomes of limited health literacy populations will improve.

Subject Area

Public health

Recommended Citation

Reddy, Reena Seelam, "Revisiting health literacy and its impact on patient-physician communication" (2009). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI1462292.