Medical Library Project 101: Health Literacy Summit

Low health literacy affects people of any age, income, race or background, and it puts an estimated 90 million Americans at risk. Whether it is interpreting instructions on a prescription bottle, deciphering pages of discharge instructions, completing a health history, or navigating the healthcare system, low health literacy predisposes patients to poor health outcomes and higher rates of preventable hospital admissions. At first glance, health literacy appears to be a problem that lies with the patient and is incumbent upon them to acquire the necessary skills. However, it is now understood, and generally accepted, that the primary responsibility for improving health literacy lies with the healthcare and information professionals. As information professionals, librarians can play a pivotal role in working together with healthcare professionals to ensure that health information and services can be understood and used by all Americans. PML librarians also led a 2016 research project which assessed the health literacy sensitive characteristics of the UTMC in order to provide recommendations for promoting changes based on evidence. Librarians partnered with UTMC stakeholders and University of Tennessee graduate students to implement the assessment tools from Health Literacy Environment of Hospitals and Health Centers. The research collected data on five areas of the health literacy environment at UTMC using established research methods. Dissemination of our findings and a discussion of how other health care organizations and libraries can reduce barriers to low health literacy patients is crucial. The Health Literacy Summit is scheduled for June 2-3, 2017, and will include both national and local speakers, hands-on breakouts, and dissemination of our research findings through a panel presentation. Funding is being requested from NNLM/SEA Medical Library Project Grant to partially fund this event

Project Details

Organization Name

University of Tennessee Graduate School of Medicine

Organization Type
Academic institution
All of Us
Project Lead


Start Date
May 1, 2017
End Date
April 30, 2018
Funding Amount
Student, College & Post-grad
Educator, College & Post-grad
General Public
Library or Information Professional
Public Health Professional
Emergency Preparedness and Response
Health care Provider
Seniors (65+ yrs.)