Definition and Importance of Health Literacy

What is “Health Literacy” and Why is it Important to Informed Consent? The Institute of Medicine 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.” Studies have shown that a large number of people do not understand the health information given to them by their doctors. For this reason, consent forms must be written in clear and understandable language. Most states’ Medicaid guidelines suggest patient education materials such as consent forms be written at a 6th-grade reading level. Consider the following sentence, written at progressively lower grade levels: College ...
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