Low levels of health literacy account for hundreds of billions of dollars spent each year on health care that would otherwise be wasted, with recent estimates standing at around $236 billion. Unfortunately, low health literacy is common, hard to spot, and negatively impacts health outcomes.
Libraries can be on the front line in the fight against low health literacy. In order to fund and use libraries and librarians in achieving health literacy goals, new policies must be created. That’s why EveryLibrary Institute commissioned a report on the effects of low health literacy. The EveryLibrary Institute is a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation. Institute donations fund our research, data, training and public education efforts.
Authors Ellen Thieme and Christina Pryor examine current issues in understanding and delivering health literacy services and provide recommendations for changing systems to achieve better outcomes.
The report’s key recommendations focus on how literacy programs should be delivered by educators who match demographics or are otherwise integrated into communities, how government agencies and organizations should do all they can to including and valuing libraries in literacy working groups, and how libraries should be offered the funding and agency to take the lead on literacy in these initiatives. This report will provide new insights for library leaders in public, academic and school settings.
Policymakers, voters and interested individuals can access EveryLibrary’s report through their website.