AHRQ releases new health literacy tool

Research Activities, February 2010, No. 354

AHRQ recently released the Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (CAHPS®) Item Set for Addressing Health Literacy in English and Spanish. The primary purpose of the CAHPS® Item Set for Addressing Health Literacy is to measure, from the patients' perspective, how well health care professionals communicate with their patients. Only 12 percent of U.S. adults have proficient health literacy. Over a third of U.S. adults—77 million people—could have difficulty with common health tasks, such as following directions on a prescription drug label or adhering to a childhood immunization schedule using a standard chart. The Item Set for Addressing Health Literacy offers:

  • The ability to identify specific topic areas for quality improvement (e.g., communication about test results, medications, and forms).
  • A measure of health care professionals' health literacy practices.
  • The ability to recognize behavior that inhibits effective communication (e.g., talking too fast).
  • Assistance in designing a safer, shame-free environment where patients feel comfortable discussing their health concerns (e.g., by showing interest in their questions).

The CAHPS® Item Set for Addressing Health Literacy consists of 29 supplemental items designed for use with the CAHPS® Clinician and Group Survey. The items address six areas: communication with doctors, communication about health problems and concerns, communication about medications, communication about tests, communication about forms, and communication about disease self-management.

Current as of February 2010
Internet Citation: AHRQ releases new health literacy tool: Research Activities, February 2010, No. 354. February 2010. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD. http://archive.ahrq.gov/news/newsletters/research-activities/feb10/0210RA28.html