October marks Health Literacy Month, but what is health literacy and why does it matter?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) define health literacy as the ability to obtain and understand standard health information and services in order to make informed decisions. When health literacy was last measured by the U.S. Department of Education, only 12% of Americans were considered “proficient” in this skill. Although health literacy is important for everyday well-being and long-term health, it is particularly critical during emerging health events such as the coronavirus pandemic. Poor health literacy can negatively affect a person’s health and contribute to an “infodemic”—the fast, far-reaching spread of misinformation—which can exacerbate a public health crisis.
Scholars and fellows across Pew’s three biomedical research programs are working to tackle some of the biggest challenges in human health by bolstering scientific knowledge. They’re focusing on issues that affect all Americans—from infectious diseases and cancer to gut health and beyond. Take this quiz to test your health literacy skills and learn more about scientists’ promising research.