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Goal 5: Build Partnerships, Develop Guidance, and Change Policies

Why this goal is important:

Organizations and professions can go at it alone, but progress toward the goals will be faster and more sustainable with consensus on common strategies, outcomes, interventions and products. Private institutions have a major role as they can build commitment among national health associations and other stakeholders to promote health literacy. Additionally, private, non-profit, voluntary, and professional organizations contact millions of consumers and health professionals each year and their information and services could and should serve as a model for health literacy practices. The strategies and resources below will help achieve this goal.

For more information, please review the complete text of Goal 5 [PDF - 666KB] in the National Action Plan to Improve Health Literacy. See: Section 3, Goal 5.

Strategies by Stakeholders:

Strategies for Philanthropic, Nonprofit, Voluntary, Advocacy, Academic, and Professional Organizations

  • Include health literacy in strategic plans, requests for proposals, grant awards, programs, and educational initiatives
  • Develop funding guidelines for health literacy projects that can be shared across sectors
  • Identify areas for guidelines and standards development to foster clear communication and usable health information and services
  • Work with communities to develop cost-effective strategies for health literacy improvement
  • Participate in and help to recruit cross-disciplinary coalitions to promote and advocate for health literacy improvement
  • Increase and leverage funding for health literacy initiatives—both alone and integrated into existing programs
  • Facilitate the sharing of resources and tools for improving health literacy
  • Educate policymakers and other decisionmakers about the need to communicate health issues clearly and about the importance of health literacy and its contributions to improvements in health outcomes and decreased costs

Strategies for Government Agencies

  • Review, analyze, and propose changes to existing laws, policies, and regulations that make it difficult to use all types of health information (e.g., general health and safety, medication, health care coverage and financing, and informed consent)
  • Assess the need for an Office of Health Literacy to provide a focal point for health literacy improvement activities
  • Support national and State data collection on health literacy factors
  • Use census and survey data to map limited health literacy "hot spots" and prioritize interventions and resources for communities and individuals with the most limited health literacy
  • Collaborate across government bureaucracies—such as public health, education, transportation, social services, and environmental and occupational health and global health—to provide clear and consistent public information about health issues and recommendations
  • Facilitate public discussion about health information and services needed in communities to support better health outcomes
  • Support research and evaluation studies that examine health literacy factors in the study of other issues, such as patient safety, emergency preparedness, and health care costs
  • Identify areas for guidelines and standards development to foster clear communication and usable health information and services and apply existing guidelines and standards in plain language and CLAS
  • Use clear communication in all public communication and approve the use of clear communication by nongovernmental organizations that have their public information reviewed by government agencies


Available Resources for


Government Agencies:

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  • Page last reviewed: August 25, 2011
  • Page last updated: February 12, 2014 The U.S. Government's Official Web PortalDepartment of Health and Human Services
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