TABLE 2-2 Groups Involved in Health Literacy: Definitions

Audience The group of spectators at a public event; listeners or viewers collectively, as in attendance at a theater or concert. A regular public that manifests interest, support, enthusiasm, or the like; a following
Constituent A person who authorizes another to act on his or her behalf, as a voter in a district represented by an elected official
Customer A person who purchases goods or services from another; buyer; patron
Partner A person who shares or is associated with another in some action or endeavor; sharer; associate. A player on the same side or team as another
Stakeholder A person or group not owning shares in an enterprise, but affected by, or having an interest in its operations, such as the employees, customers, and local community


which individuals will have to be trained. Newly trained health personnel should be educated to understand the importance of health literacy and provide care that is linguistically appropriate, Washington said.

Educational institutions have played an important role in furthering the use of multidisciplinary, community-based, participatory research. Such research should include schools of business, engineering, education, and communication, along with the traditional disciplines in health sciences. Another area for involvement of the academic community relates to interventions to improve health literacy. Researchers in academic institutions are furthering the science of establishing what interventions are most effective. Interventions include communication strategies both at the individual level, and for populations at large. The development of methods, measurements, and standards are critical to understanding what works and to determine whether or not providers, institutions, organizations, and communities are providing care and messages that are at the appropriate health literacy level.

The educational enterprise must embrace the idea of a continuum of lifelong learning, not only for individuals and patients, but also for healthcare providers. Such an approach is needed in order to fully appreciate the dimensions of low health literacy and the opportunities to intervene and ensure high-quality health care. Low health literacy is not simply a local, state, or even a national problem. It is a global problem. The outcomes of forums such as the IOM workshop have broad implications with the potential for improving health worldwide, he concluded.

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