Health Literacy

AHRQ Funding Available for Research on Organizational Health Literacy

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality recently acknowledged Health Literacy Month with a blog post and reminder that the agency offers funding to researchers “to develop new evidence on how best to integrate organizational health literacy strategies into primary and specialty care, as well as how to spread health literacy strategies across ambulatory settings.”

In the blog post, AHRQ references a two-part definition — organizational and personal health literacy — that acknowledges the important role organizations play to assist and “equitably enable individuals to find, understand and use information and services to inform health-related decisions and actions for themselves and others.” Given the complexity of our healthcare system, many people need help as they develop their personal health literacy, finding reliable information and using it to inform healthcare decisions. Most of us benefit from some degree of guidance and support in that process, not just those who have language, education or other barriers. Describing the wide-ranging need for research in this area, AHRQ recognizes “that health literacy is dynamic … even people who usually have adequate health literacy face challenges in understanding and navigating the health system, especially when they are sick, tired, or worried.” And organizations will benefit from research that discovers the most effective and efficient ways to offer that help.

This two-part definition of health literacy was adopted by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for Healthy People 2030, a recently launched 10-year initiative to improve the health and well-being of Americans throughout their lives. Healthy People 2030 picks up where Healthy People 2020 left off, with significant updates and changes to the program’s comprehensive list of topics and goals. Health literacy is currently a research topic for the HHS’s 2030 program.

The funding available from AHRQ is described in a Special Emphasis Notice that announces the agency’s “interest in research on improving organizational health literacy to prevent and manage chronic disease,” especially diabetes. AHRQ is interested in supporting research projects that explore the effect of organizational programs for health literacy on racial, ethnic and language disparities; people who receive care from safety net providers; people who have multiple chronic conditions; and patient engagement or experience. More details, including dates and links to announcements and applications are available in the SEN.


Susan Carr Susan Carr is a medical editor and writer specializing in patient safety and engagement. In addition to curating the EngagingPatients blog, she produces publications for the Betsy Lehman Center in Boston and the Society to Improve Diagnosis in Medicine. Susan lives and works in Lunenburg, Massachusetts.

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