This is the updated second edition of the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality’s Health Literacy Universal Precautions Toolkit. Health literacy universal precautions are the steps that health care providers take when they assume that all patients may have difficulty comprehending health information and accessing health services. Experts recommend assuming that everyone may have difficulty understanding, and creating an environment where all patients can thrive. Only 12 percent of U.S. adults have the health literacy skills needed to manage the demands of our complex health care system, and even these individuals’ ability to absorb and use health information can be compromised by stress or illness. Like with blood safety, universal precautions should be taken to address health literacy because we can’t know which patients are challenged by health care information and tasks at any given time. Health literacy universal precautions are aimed at:
- Simplifying communication with and confirming comprehension for all patients, so that the risk of miscommunication is minimized.
- Making the office environment and health care system easier to navigate.
- Supporting patients’ efforts to improve their health.
The toolkit includes 21 Tools (3-5 pages each) that address improving:
- Spoken communication.
- Written communication.
- Self-management and empowerment.
- Supportive systems.
The AHRQ website has additional materials, including a Powerpoint presentation with speaker’s notes that can be used for training presentations.