The Health Literacy Committee at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center was created in response to emerging health literacy issues in the medical setting. The Health Literacy Committee resides within the Division of General and Community Pediatrics at Cincinnati Children's and consists of ten individuals who are committed to the improvement of health literacy locally in the Greater Cincinnati community, as well as at the national level.
The National Health Education Standards define health literacy as the capacity of an individual to obtain, interpret and understand basic health information and services and the competence to use such information and services in ways that are health enhancing (e.g., ability to understand instructions on prescription drug bottles, appointment slips, medical education brochures, doctors' directions and consent forms). The literature documents that 90 million Americans have difficulty understanding and acting on health information (IOM Report, 2004). Low health literacy is increasingly recognized as a problem that influences health care quality and cost since potentially life-threatening or harmful mistakes can happen when patients cannot read or understand the information provided.