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National Cancer Institute

Health Literacy

Summary

The branch supports research on health literacy, defined as “the degree to which individuals can obtain, process, and understand the basic health information and services they need to make appropriate health decisions” (Institute of Medicine, 2004). Limited health literacy is an important contributor to health disparities and frequently a barrier to medical screening, treatment, health-related quality of life, and cancer communication. HCIRB encourages innovative research that examines the role of health literacy in public health and clinical cancer care. Scientific priorities include testing the effect of tailored and targeted communication, understanding the digital divide and its impact on health disparities, developing strategies for communicating uncertain and complex cancer information to diverse and limited health literacy populations, and applying mixed methods approaches to investigate challenges related to limited health literacy.

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