The Health Literacy Initiative (HLI) provides today's healthcare insights leaders the tools and understanding required to address the growing needs of patients with a variety of health literacy levels.  By providing these resources, the HLI's Clear Health Communications Task Force works to drive change within our industry and at the FDA that will equip patients to better understand their treatments, control their own health decisions and improve outcomes.


Background on Health Literacy Issues:

As healthcare becomes more patient-centric, there is an increasing need to ensure that all patients are able to obtain, process and understand basic materials to make informed decisions about their health.  Did you know that only 12% of adults in the United States have proficient health literacy?1  The lower the health literacy, the more likely a person is to report they have poor health and forgo health insurance.  For this reason, low health literacy has been linked to poor health outcomes – more hospitalizations, less compliance with medications and less frequent use of preventative services.2  The responsibility for improving health literacy falls upon industry professionals and the HLI seeks to do just this.


Where to Start:


May 3, 2022 Session Recording: Health Literacy Principles: What, Why, How, What’s Next?  

AMA-AAMC's Advancing Health Equity: Health Equity Guide to Language, Narrative and Concepts, October 2021


MedPage Today article: Is Essential Patient Information Lost in Translation? — Consistent assessment for translator needs promotes patient safety, November 4, 2021 

Patient counseling materials: The effect of patient health literacy on the comprehension of printed prescription drug information, published in Research in Social and Administrative Pharmacy, September 2018 


Intellus Health Literacy Article, published in Quirks, Sept 2017 - The purpose of this article is to raise awareness of how health literacy could be used as a lever to improve public health, while challenging market researchers to consider health literacy as both a responsibility and an opportunity in their research designs.


Patient-Centric Communications - HLI-fielded study on how pharma, market research, and other organizations are implementing practices to make materials more easily understood. 


The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services gives a good overview of the facts surrounding low health literacy and outlines the dangerous consequences. 

Don’t Assume. Assess!  Your organization should stay current on health literacy concerns. Visit the CDC's webpage to learn how to conduct health literacy assessments in your organization.  


CDC's Clear Communication Index, a research-based tool that helps you develop and assess communication materials for your intended audience.


CDC information and tools to improve health literacy and public health.

Health Literacy Principles Checklist - Ensure that materials are plain, simple and understood by following as many principles as possible! 

Trial Scope article "Health Literacy the Key to Opening the Door to Clinical Trials," Jan 2019

Kara Jacobson and Ruth Parker, participants of the Institute of Medicine's Roundtable on Health Literacy, capture 20 years of work in the health literacy arena in a brief discussion paper: “Health Literacy Principles: Guidance for Making Information Understandable, Useful, and Navigable.” 

 -  AHRQ's tools for assessing health literacy

“Back to School: Patient Education” published by Georgetown University: This resource discusses how front-line clinicians often serve as patients' teachers, facing the same challenges and accomplishments as teachers in the classroom. Within the article, there is a helpful infographic that provides teaching strategies for clinicians, including motivating, planning lessons, assigning homework, testing knowledge, and celebrating success. It emphasizes the role that front-line clinicians play in improving health literacy with their patients.

HLRP: Health Literacy Research and Practice - perspective piece on health literacy in market research, and it contains some validation testing resources.

1 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion.  Quick Guide to Health Literacy: Health Literacy Basics.  Available at . Accessed February 24, 2015.

2 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion.  Quick Guide to Health Literacy: Health Literacy and Health Outcomes.  Available at quickguide/factsliteracy.htm. Accessed February 24, 2015.

Improving Adherence Through Comprehension, download handout

CHC Committee

Tom Donnelly, PhD, Research Partnership
Tatiana Barakshina, PhD, Bazis
Glenna Crooks, The NetworkSage
Gabriela de Paula Prado, Demanda Research
Portia Gordon, Branding Science 
C. David Gustafson, D Gustafson & Associates
Barbara Haimowitz, Segmedica
Julie Leonard, MarketVision
April McCormick, Newristics
Derek McCracken, Columbia University
Wes Michael, Rare Patient Voice
Andrea O'Neill, Medtronic
Dawn Payne, Novartis
Diana Pohle, BioMarin
Amanda Ryan, G3 Translate
Peter Simpson, Sarasota Ventures
Bill Stone
Scott von Lutcken, Merck
Donna Wray, Evoke
Jim Kirk, Emeritus Member

View more detailed information about our committee members here

The Health Literacy Initiative is currently establishing best practices for health literacy research.  If you have expertise in this area and would like to contribute to this effort, please contact Tom Donnelly

Intellus Clear Communications Task Force received a Business Partner of the Year Award from Seton Hall University on April 5, 2022 - check out this video describing their project with the Seton Hall Market Research Center.

Intellus Worldwide's Health Literacy Initiative receives the Institute for Healthcare Advancement's 2018 IHA Health Literacy Award for Research, view HLI Literacy Award Press Release

The HLI team was also recognized with the 19th Annual IHA Health Literacy Award.

Seton Hall Students Work with Intellus HLI to Change the Conversation about Vaccinations

During the Spring 2021 semester, the HLI team paired up with Seton Hall's Market Research Center on a pilot study “MaxVax: Changing the Conversation about COVID Vaccination.”  Now that we understand emotional drivers and barriers, our next step is to create health-literate communication to maximize vaccinations for all!  Check out the results from this study and stay tuned for updates on the important initiative.

Cover Your Nose and Mouth: COVID-19 Public Service Announcement

The Intellus Health Literacy Initiative developed and tested a number of posters for store owners, schoolteachers - anyone who would like to print and use them - to remind people to cover their nose and mouth while wearing their mask and have identified the best two.


Click here to access and share posters, available in 27 languages!

Background: At a recent meeting, The Health Literacy Initiative (HLI) discussed how we can we help people stay safe until the number of COVID-19 cases drops. Mask-wearing was the key issue people felt could be improved on. Healthcare professionals know that masks can help stop the spread of COVID-19, however some people wear them below their nose. If air goes in and out of the nose without going through a mask, the mask is not doing its job.

Using principles of clear communication, we developed ideas for better signs about correct mask wearing. Chillibreeze donated their creative services to the project and the results were then tested more formally with an online panel through Sommer Consulting and Rare Patient Voice. Translations from English provided by G3 Translate.  Our thanks to everyone who helped make this project a success!