Ten Attributes of Health Literate Health Care Organizations
The Ten Attributes of Health
Literate Health Care Organizations were created by the National Academies Roundtable on Health Literacy.
The document that outlines these attributes has been used as a guide for many organizations to plan and
implement their health literacy efforts. This approach acknowledges that health literacy is an essential
component of healthcare organizations and that organizations with these attributes make it easier for people to
navigate, comprehend, and use health information and services. The ten attributes of a health literate
Leading health literate missions and operations
Integrating health literacy into planning, evaluation measures, and quality improvement
Preparing the workforce to be health literate
Designing, implementing, and evaluating health information and services with a diverse population in mind
Acknowledging the range of different health literacy levels and needs and avoiding stigmatization
Using health literate strategies in communication
Providing easy access to health information
Designing print, audiovisual, and social media content that is easy to understand
Focusing on health literacy in high-risk situations such as during illness and transitions in care
Providing clear communication about health insurance coverage and charges for services
Example of Programs Using the Ten Attributes of Health Literate Health Care Organizations
of Tennessee Medical Center has developed a health literacy initiative through its partnership with
the University of Tennessee Graduate School of Medicine. The institution has created strategic goals
harnessing the ten attributes of health literate care organizations to make impactful change in increasing
organizational health literacy.
There are several implementation strategies that healthcare organizations can use to help them adopt, align, and
sustain these attributes to improve organizational health literacy. These strategies are outlined in the National
Academies Roundtable on Health Literacy paper. These strategies do not all need to be implemented at the
same time or in a certain manner. Different organizations will choose to use these approaches in a way that best
suits the goals and mission of their work and organization. These attributes are most applicable to healthcare
organizations and healthcare professionals who are directly providing patient care in some capacity.
Resources to Learn More
The Health Literate
Health Care Organization 10 Item Questionnaire (HLHO-10): Development and Validation
Describes the method used for evaluating an instrument that measures the effectiveness of healthcare
organizations in their efforts to assess patient level of health literacy and to implement strategies to help
lessen health literacy issues.
Author(s): Kowalski, C., Lee, S.D., Schmidt, A., et al.
Citation: BMC Health Services Research, 15, 47