The mission of the Agency for Health Care Policy and Research is to support, conduct, and disseminate research that improves access to care and improves the outcomes, quality, cost, and utilization of health care services. It recently commissioned and published a report on literacy and health outcomes. Further information about the organization can be obtained from its website.
This study is based on a critical examination of the literature on literacy and health to address two questions: 1) Are literacy skills related to use of health care services, health outcomes, costs of health care and disparities in health outcomes?; and 2) For individuals with low literacy skills, what are effective interventions?. It found strong evidence that low reading skills and poor health are related, but less evidence regarding the effectiveness of interventions.