Health Literacy and Numeracy - Workshop Summary

Although health literacy is commonly defined as an individual trait, it does not depend on the skills of individuals alone. Health literacy is the product of the interaction between individuals' capacities and the health literacy-related demands and complexities of the health care system. Specifically, the ability to understand, evaluate, and use numbers is important to making informed health care choices. The IOM Roundtable on Health Literacy commissioned a paper on numeracy skills and hosted a workshop that featured the presentation of the paper by its authors. Speakers at the workshop discussed a number of topics related to numeracy, including the effects of ill health on cognitive capacity, issues with communication of health information to the public, and communicating numeric information for decision making.