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Health Literacy and Women's Health: Challenges and Opportunities


Address correspondence to Jane E. Corrarino, DNP, RN, 6 Osprey Lane, Setauket, NY 11733. E-mail:



This article describes the impact of health literacy on women's health and provides strategies for addressing this public health issue.


A comprehensive literature review was conducted of peer-reviewed journals. Multiple electronic databases were used, including CINAHL, MEDLINE, PubMed, and Google Scholar. Key words were used to identify articles and were combined to include health literacy, health behavior, women's health, patient education, and professional role. Additional articles were identified as a result of reviewing reference lists found during the electronic search.


Health literacy is a complex issue that affects many women and can adversely affect women's knowledge, ability to adhere to clinical plans of care, and health outcomes for women and their children. It is estimated that 36% of adults in the United States possess limited health literacy skills. Effective strategies can be used by health care providers to address this serious problem, including clear and effective communication, development of health education materials, professional education, and development of community partnerships.


Health literacy is a serious problem. Effective approaches can be employed to blunt the adverse effect on women's health. Health care providers are well positioned to demonstrate leadership within the health care system regarding health literacy.