AHRQ Pharmacy Health Literacy Center

This site provides pharmacists with recently released health literacy tools and other resources from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ).

These tools include:

What is Pharmacy Health Literacy?

Pharmacy health literacy is the degree to which individuals are able to obtain, process, and understand basic health and medication information and pharmacy services needed to make appropriate health decisions.

  • Only 12% of adults have proficient health literacy (e.g., can interpret the prescription label correctly).
  • Medication errors are likely higher with patients with limited health literacy, as they are more likely to misinterpret the prescription label information and auxiliary labels.
  • Studies document an association between low literacy and poor health outcomes.

Why is Health Literacy Important to Pharmacy?

  • Pharmacists are responsible for making sure patients obtain the maximum positive health outcomes from their medications.
  • Pharmacists care for patients with low to high education levels, low to high incomes, and multiple races of people; all of whom may have limited health literacy.
  • Medication errors are likely higher with patients with limited health literacy.
  • Studies document an association between low literacy and poor health outcomes.
  • Pharmacists are one of the most accessible health care providers.
  • Addressing literacy is an important quality improvement effort.

AHRQ Health Literacy Tools for Use in Pharmacies

Recognizing that pharmacies may need additional knowledge and assistance to improve their health literacy practices, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) has developed five health literacy tools for pharmacy:

  1. Pharmacy Health Literacy Assessment Tool & User's Guide.
  2. Training Program for Pharmacy Staff on Communication.
  3. Guide on How To Create a Pill Card.
  4. Telephone Reminder Tool To Help Refill Medicines On Time.
  5. Explicit and Standardized Prescription Medicine Instructions.

Want to learn more about these tools? Go to: AHRQ Tools

Advancing Pharmacy Health Literacy Practices Through Quality Improvement:
Curricular Modules for Faculty

These curricular modules can help pharmacy faculty integrate health literacy and health literacy quality improvement into courses, experiential education, and projects for PharmD students and pharmacy residents. The curricular modules include 17 activity guides with 4 accompanying PowerPoint® presentations.

  1. Advancing Pharmacy Health Literacy Practices Through Quality Improvement: Curricular Modules for Faculty.
Page last reviewed December 2014
Internet Citation: AHRQ Pharmacy Health Literacy Center. December 2014. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD. http://www.ahrq.gov/professionals/quality-patient-safety/pharmhealthlit/index.html