Research Activities March 2013, No. 391

Experts propose new Health Literate Care Model


Primary care providers can address their patients’ health literacy needs by using a Health Literate Care Model, according to a new study published in the February 4 online issue of Health Affairs. More than one-third of patients in the United States are not health literate enough to understand all that they need to do to take care of their health, according to study authors, Department of Health and Human Services Assistant Secretary for Health Howard K. Koh, M.D., Cindy Brach, M.P.P., of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), and others.

The Care Model, the method currently used by medical providers to improve the quality of their patients’ care, has drawn attention to the importance of informed patient engagement, but it does not include specific strategies to make sure all patients understand health information and can navigate the complex health care system. The proposed Health Literate Care Model would integrate tools from AHRQ’s 2010 Health Literacy Universal Precautions Toolkit into each of the Care Model’s six elements—health care organization, self-management support, delivery system redesign, decision support, clinical information systems, and community linkages.

According to the authors, use of the Health Literate Care Model will make health literacy an organizational value while introducing health literacy universal precautions such as confirming patient understanding through "teach back" into the care system. For details, see "Improving Patient Engagement through the Health Literate Care Model," in the February 4 Health Affairs. To access AHRQ’s Health Literacy Universal Precautions Kit, go to

Page last reviewed March 2013
Page originally created March 2013
Internet Citation: Experts propose new Health Literate Care Model. Content last reviewed March 2013. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD.