NLM logo

National Information Center on Health Services Research and Health Care Technology (NICHSR)

COVID-19 is an emerging, rapidly evolving situation.

Get the latest public health information from CDC:
Get the latest research information from NIH:

Serving the Information Needs of the
Health Services Research Community

Email Updates

Please enter your email address in the box below for updates:


Brown ArrowHealth Literacy and Cultural Competence

Health Literacy is defined in the National Library of Medicine's Current Bibliographies in Medicine: Health Literacy as "the degree to which individuals have the capacity to obtain, process, and understand basic health information and services needed to make appropriate health decisions" (Selden, Zorn, Ratzan, Parker, 2000)

Culturally and linguistically appropriate services "are respectful of and responsive to the health beliefs, practices and needs of diverse patients. The percentage of Americans who are racial and ethnic minorities and who speak a primary language other than English continues grow rapidly. Organizations are looking to meet the challenges of serving diverse communities and provide high quality services and care."(Center for Linguistic and Cultural Competence in Health Care, cited 6/17/2016)

A specialized search for published research in PubMed has been developed to help inform investigations of health literacy. An extensive list of health literacy resources is also featured on this website.

  • Center for Linguistic and Cultural Competency in Health Care Details

    The mission of OMH is to improve and protect the health of racial and ethnic minority populations through the development of health policies and programs that will eliminate health disparities and promote cultural competency, through the Center for Linguistic and Cultural Competence. OMH also supports the OMHRC Knowledge Center Library, an extensive searchable resource.

  • Clear Communication: A NIH Health Literacy Initiative Details

    The NIH Clear Communication Initiative focuses on tools and resources that address health literacy particularly as it relates to conveying scientific information and research: 1) Providing information in the form and with the content that is accessible to specific audiences based on cultural competence; and 2) Incorporating plain language approaches and new technologies.

  • Culture, Language, and Health Literacy Details

    Highlights HRSA-supported projects on cross-cultural health care in areas such as special population, race/ethnicity, age, organ donation and transplantation, and research.

  • Health Literacy Web Portal Details

    A collection of AHRQ resources, toolkits, and learning modules for a variety of health care professionals.

  • Health Literacy Workgroup Details

    The HHS Health Literacy Workgroup is comprised of all operating and most staff divisions under HHS, and has met regularly since 2003. The workgroup collaborates to ensure that improving health literacy remains a priority for HHS. The workgroup strives to create understandable and actionable health information, support and facilitate engaged and activated health consumers, and refresh the health literacy science base on a regular basis.

  • Health Literacy and the NICHD Details

    This agency explores health processes, and examines the impact of disabilities, diseases, and variations on the lives of individuals. As part of its mission, it supports and conducts research aimed at increasing health literacy and numeracy.

  • Healthy People 2020: Health Communication and Health Information Technology Details

    The Healthy People 2020 goals provide a science-based, 10-year national objectives for improving the health of all Americans. Among the goals are those aimed at 1)improving the health literacy of the population, and 2)increasing the proportion of persons who report that their health care providers have satisfactory communication skills.

  • National Center for Cultural Competence Details

    The National Center for Cultural Competence (NCCC) provides national leadership and contributes to the body of knowledge on cultural and linguistic competency within systems and organizations. Major emphasis is placed on translating evidence into policy and practice for programs and personnel concerned with health and mental health care delivery, administration, education and advocacy.

  • Office of Minority Health (OMH) Details

    The mission of the Office of Minority Health (OMH) is to improve and protect the health of racial and ethnic minority populations through the development of health policies and programs that will eliminate health disparities. Detailed information on cultural competency can be found on this site.

  • Roundtable on Health Literacy Details

    This Roundtable is comprised of representatives from academia, industry, government, foundations, and associations, as well as from patient and consumer interests.

  • Think Cultural Health (TCH) Details

    Provides resources and tools to promote cultural and linguistic competency in health care including access to free and accredited continuing education programs.