Health literacy assessment

Health Literacy for Case Managers

Health literacy is the ability to obtain, communicate, process and understand basic health information. Patients can have difficulty following instructions after a doctors visit or hospitalization, or may take mediations wrong due to lack of understanding. This can lead to serious health problems. 

Knowing if the patient has low health literacy enables the Case Manager to adjust instructions to the ability of the patient. Signs that a patient may have low health literacy include stating that another family member handles their medications or deferring questions about their health history to a family member. 

The Case Manager can also assess health literacy by asking questions such as:

  • Does someone usually help you read hospital materials?
  • Are you confident filling out medical forms by yourself?
  • How often do you have problems learning about your medical conditions

There are also formal Health literacy tests including TOFHLA (Test of Functional Health Literacy Assessment) and The Newest Vital Sign, a quick screening test for general literacy, numeracy and comprehension skills related to health information.