Invited commentary. Simply speaking: The importance of health literacy for patient outcomes

Health literacy is “the degree to which an individual has the capacity to obtain, communicate, process, and understand basic health information and services to make appropriate health decisions,” as defined by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010.1 Health literacy can include a variety of skills, including understanding prescription labels on medications, reading and appropriately filling out medical forms in doctors’ offices, and actively participating in the informed consent process for medical and surgical procedures.

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