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Lead Health Literacy Initiative

"Low health literacy is a threat to the health and wellbeing of Americans. And low health literacy crosses all sectors of our society. All ages, races, incomes, and education levels are challenged by low health literacy."

Rear Admiral Kenneth P. Moritsugu, MD, MPH
Acting United States Surgeon General
December 2006

What is health literacy?

Health Literacy is the capacity to obtain, process and understand basic health information and services needed to make appropriate health decisions. Approximately one-half of the adult population may lack the needed literacy skills to use the U.S. healthcare system. Low literacy has been linked to poor health outcomes such as higher rates of hospitalization and less frequent use of preventive services.

Reference: Institute of Medicine. 2004. Health Literacy: A Prescription to End Confusion. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.

What is the Healthy Homes and Lead Poisoning Prevention Program doing to address health literacy?

The Healthy Homes and Lead Poisoning Prevention Program (HHLPPP) is concerned about health literacy. The program created several resources to help communicate about childhood lead poisoning.

Lead Glossary [PDF - 1.33 MB]
Lead Poisoning: Words to Know is a dictionary that gives the meaning of words you often hear or read about lead. It can help you as you try to learn more about childhood lead poisoning and its health effects or how to communicate aspects of childhood lead poisoning to clients.

Fact Sheets
These three facts sheets were designed with health literacy principles in mind. They are in English and Spanish.

Know the Facts: A fact sheet with general lead poisoning prevention information.
English [PDF - 276 KB]
en Español [PDF - 220 KB]

5 Things You Can Do: A fact sheet with information on how to help lower elevated blood lead levels.
English [PDF - 186 KB]
en Español [PDF - 186 KB]

Are You Pregnant?: A fact sheet with lead poisoning prevention information for pregnant women.
English [PDF - 128 KB]
en Español [PDF - 86 KB]


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention—Health Literacy: Accurate, Accessible and Actionable Health Information for All
Provides information and tools to improve health literacy and public health

U.S. Department of Health & Human Services—Health Literacy Improvement website
Provides further links to health literacy tools, government resources, reports, and research

Harvard School of Public Health—Health Literacy Studies website
Provides health literacy, literature, research and policy, innovative materials, assessment tools, curricula, further links and contact information

Institute of Medicine—Health Literacy: A Prescription to End Confusion
Provides access to a report from the Institute of Medicine about health literacy in America


Simply Put: A Guide for Creating Easy-to-Understand Materials [PDF - 1.87 MB] (CDC)

Quick Guide to Health Literacy: Fact Sheets, Strategies, Resources (HHS)

  • Links to non-federal organizations are provided solely as a service to our users. These links do not constitute an endorsement of these organizations or their programs by CDC or the federal government, and none should be inferred. CDC is not responsible for the content of the individual organization Web pages found at these links.