Sharing our Health Literacy Action Plan Stories: Year 2 - Guest Discussion - Health Literacy


  • Second annual discussion on this topic!
  • Prelude to live virtual event at IHA’s Health Literacy conference on May 9th!

The National Action Plan to Improve Health Literacy was released in May of 2010 by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). It is an important and practical document for everyone with an interest in health literacy because it gives a framework for us to combine our isolated projects into a common purpose for the nation, and gives us specific strategies for reaching our goals. (We affectionately refer to this plan as the NAP to save syllables!)

Last year we had a discussion on this list dedicated to sharing our stories of what we were doing in each of our varied settings and organizations to work on the National Action Plan (NAP). You can see the discussion at this link:

We used this discussion to encourage participation in a broader national sharing venue: a live social media event, which was a Pre-conference session at the Institute for Healthcare Advancement’s (IHA) annual Health Literacy Conference. This event featured a live audience, streaming video, twitter feed and facebook discussion. You can see a recap of this event here:

In this, our second annual discussion, we will again act as a feeder to this year’s social media event at the Institute for Healthcare Advancement’s conference.

There is much more work going on now, and also some new tools to help use the NAP to guide our work. We would like to hear from all of you who are doing this work and using these tools! We would also love to hear from those of you who wrote in last year to update your story, and tell us how it has evolved in the past year.

Sharing our stories may seem like a small thing, but it is an important step, which will continue to bring the national community of health literacy together as a field, enabling us to learn from each other and inspire each other.

Guest Biographies

Cynthia Baur, Ph.D., is the Senior Advisor for Health Literacy, Office of the Associate Director for Communication, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). From 2006-2010, she was the Director, Division of Health Communication and Marketing, National Center for Health Marketing, CDC. She is a co-chair of the Healthy People 2020 Health Communication and Health Information Technology Workgroup and a co-chair of the HHS workgroup on health literacy. She is the lead author of the National Action Plan to Improve Health Literacy and one of the developers of CDC’s online health literacy training for health professionals. Dr. Baur holds a Ph.D. in Communication from the University of California, San Diego.

Michael Villaire, MSLM is the Chief Operating Officer of the Institute for Healthcare Advancement (IHA). He has edited several medical journals and written extensively about health literacy in various medical contexts. He co-authored two books: Health literacy in primary care: A clinician's guide and What To Do For Heavy Kids.

Perhaps most importantly, for the past ten years he has led the nation's first annual conference solely dedicated to health literacy. The IHA's Health Literacy Conference, held in Irvine, CA every May has brought health literacy advocates together for a decade, and continues to do so.

Preparation Reading

The National Action Plan to Improve Health Literacy

Last Year’s Discussion on this list (Apr. 2011)

Initial National Action Plan Discussion on this list (Sept. 2010)

Recap from last year’s Virtual Story-sharing Event

Areas of Focus

Instead of the usual Discussion Questions, here are some Areas of Focus that we would like to address in our call for stories:

  1. How have you who are health organizations engaged with the adult literacy community in your health literacy work, and vice-versa?
  2. In what ways have you been able to (or would you like to) create regional collaborations with nearby states in order to enhance your work?
  3. We would like to hear from those from outside the U.S.! What other countries are working on health literacy as a national focus and how are they doing it? How does the U.S. NAP fit into your efforts?
  4. Tools and Resources: which ones have helped the most? There is a workbook* which is designed to be used along with the NAP. How helpful has it been, and what others can you recommend?

* Making Health Literacy Real: The Beginnings of My Organization’s Plan for Action can be found at:

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