Health literacy is defined as the degree to which individuals have the capacity to obtain, process, and understand the basic health information and services they need to make appropriate health decisions. Multiple factors affect a patient’s understanding of health information, including cultural factors, a physician’s health knowledge and communication skills, the demands of the situation, the environment in which the health information is being conveyed, and time constraints. The responsibility for recognizing and addressing the problem of limited health literacy lies with all entities in the health care system, from primary care physicians to community-based or public health organizations. Because of the potential effect of health literacy on patient outcomes, obstetrician–gynecologists should take the appropriate steps to ensure that they communicate in an understandable manner so patients can make informed decisions about their health care.
Committee on Patient Safety and Quality Improvement Committee on Health Care for Underserved Women: This Committee Opinion was developed by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists’ Committee on Patient Safety and Quality Improvement and Committee on Health Care for Underserved Women in collaboration with Whitney B. You, MD, MPH.
This document reflects emerging concepts on patient safety and is subject to change. The information should not be construed as dictating an exclusive course of treatment or procedure to be followed.
Copyright October 2016 by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, posted on the Internet, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without prior written permission from the publisher.
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Health literacy to promote quality of care. Committee Opinion No. 676. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Obstet Gynecol 2016;128:e183–6.
Received August 24, 2016
Accepted August 24, 2016