October is Health Literacy month

Health literacy is about people having enough knowledge, understanding, skills and confidence to use health information, to be active partners in their care, and to navigate health and social care systems.

Our Patient Information Specialist Librarian works with BSUH teams on creating easy to read patient information, including leaflets and videos, and will advise on sources of reliable information.




You can contact Cecilia on cecilia.bethencourt-dunning@nhs.net

Here’s just a selection of the resources to support Health Literacy. Explore our full range via our website: https://www.bsuh.nhs.uk/library/

NHS OpenAthens password required; register here: http://openathens.nice.org.uk/


Stewart M N. The art and science of patient education for health literacy


Bastable S B. Essentials of patient education


Irwig L. Smart health choices: making sense of health advice









Evidence searches carried out on Health Literacy

We provide evidence to inform patient care, service improvement, research and clinical teaching. Recent searches we’ve provided include:

  • Improving health and wellbeing & health inequalities in COPD through improving health literacy
  • Low health literacy and medication-related harm in adults
  • Low literacy and healthcare utilisation in the elderly

Web and other resources 

NHS Education for Scotland (NES) and HEE have collaborated to develop a new, free e-learning module for people working in health and care to understand the role health literacy plays in the health and social care systems. The resource supports a more blended approach to learning and spreading awareness of health literacy, building on the NES resource in The Health Literacy Place and HEE’s health literacy toolkit.

Health Literacy – e-LfH

This 30-minute session will teach you why health literacy is important and how to use some simple techniques including TeachBack, chunk and check, using pictures and simple language to improve how you communicate and check understanding with others.

For more information, visit https://www.e-lfh.org.uk/programmes/health-literacy/

NHS England Enabling people to make informed health decisions   Health Literacy

In 2015 Public Health England and the Institute of Health Equity published a report entitled “Improving health literacy to reduce health inequalities”. This showed that up to 61 per cent of the working age population in England finds it difficult to understand health and wellbeing information. Low levels of health literacy impact significantly upon a person’s ability to manage long term conditions, engage with preventative programmes and make informed healthy lifestyle choices, and keep to medication regimes.

NHS Health Literacy toolkit

Plain English Campaign

Health Education England Health Literacy ‘how to’ guide

World Health Organisation Health Literacy