How health literate is the NHS? Sound like a strange question? Just as health literacy implies the social resources needed to access, understand and use health information, the phrase also encompasses the ability to communicate information clearly and effectively. This light-hearted BBC story makes some crucial points about the contemporary use of language in healthcare. Well worth a read!!

Dr Jo Protheroe, GP and Senior Lecturer at the Research Institute for Primary Care and Health Sciences, Keele University, and Prof Gill Rowlands, GP and Professor of General Practice, Institute of Health and Society, Newcastle University have been appointed as advocates for Health Literacy for NHS England, a role which aims to help raise the awareness and importance of Health Literacy in England.

Health literacy is ‘The personal characteristics and social resources needed for individuals and communities to access, understand, appraise and use information and services to make decisions about health’.

Studies have shown that at present, health information is written at too complex a level, with 43-61% of the population of adults in England being unable to understand health information that is presented to them.[1] This inability for a patient to understand the information presented to them can have a serious impact on the patient’s life both in general, but for their health and wellbeing in particular.

NHS England recognises the urgency of improving health literacy and have taken a number of short-term actions. This included the appointment of General Practitioners (GPs) to act as Honorary Health Literacy Clinical Advisors, providing clinical insight for policy makers in the Person Centred Care Team and Self-Care Support Programme. As advisors, Jo and Gill will work alongside Clinicians and Clinical Commissioning Groups sharing their clinical expertise and experience to the Health Literacy programmes in NHS England as well as collaborative groups, such as the Health Literacy Collaborative Group (HLCG). They will also make use of their professional connections, such as the Royal Colleges, especially the Royal College of GPs, to highlight NHS England initiatives and the importance of Health Literacy practice. They will liaise with the HLCG to identify research priorities to submit to the National Institute of Health Research, in partnership with the RCGP and support the clinical aspects of the Collaborations for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care (CLAHRCs).

[1]          G. Rowlands, J. Protheroe, J. Winkley, M. Richardson, P. T. Seed, and R. Rudd, "A mismatch between population health literacy and the complexity of health information: an observational study," Br. J. Gen. Pract, vol. 65, pp. e379-e386, 6/2015 2015.


International Conference for Communication in Healthcare & Health Literacy Annual Research Conference

Baltimore Waterfront Marriott, October 8-11 2017

Join the American Academy on Communication in Healthcare for a joint meeting of ICCH and HARC! Save the date to attend this interdisciplinary and international research and educational event. 

We would like to invite you to submit scientific abstracts and proposals for workshops, symposia and special interest groups. The ICCH and HARC aim to create a learning community that fosters scholarship and inter-professional collaboration to advance knowledge and innovation in communication, healthcare and relationship-centred care. We welcome abstracts and proposals from all disciplines and health professions and abstracts are now being accepted. EXTENDED DEADLINE Monday 10th April



Research in Social and Adminstrative Pharmacy

Please note the call for papers for a special themed issue on "Interventional Approaches to Health Literacy in Pharmacy Practice and Education". Details can be found at:


This is an international call for interventional and multidisciplinary research aimed at identifying new and innovative research in health literacy. Deadline for submission 1st September 2017, for publication in early 2018.


Can you help with evaluation of booklet about treating breast cancer?

In the hope of increasing accessibility to a wider range of readers, breast cancer support charity Breast Cancer Care has produced some materials about treating breast cancer. This material contains much less detail than our traditional patient information booklet on the subject and is aimed at a lower reading age.We surveyed a range of potential users during the development, and are now seeking volunteers to do some evaluation of the first full iteration.
If you would be willing to take part – either as an individual or with a group of patients, for example – we would be most grateful. The evaluation involves looking at the booket, followed by the completion of a short paper or online survey: all booklets and  questionnaires will be supplied. If you’d like to help, please email with ‘Treating breast cancer evaluation’ in the subject line.