Topic Areas: Health Literacy: Optimizing Outcomes

Topic Chairs: Jennifer Gilligan and Lynne Brady Wagner

Content Area: General Interest

This topic area presents research, information and resources on optimizing health outcomes for individuals and communities with respect to health literacy.  This includes policy, programs, administration, counseling, communication and public health initiatives. Health Literacy addresses the degree to which individuals have the capacity to obtain, process and understand basic health information and services, to make appropriate health decisions. Included under this umbrella are educational programs and public health initiatives that target prevention; a focus on provision of patient-centered care through knowledge-building and changing perspectives and health behaviors; and promotion of patient and family engagement in care. Evidence-based approaches designed to improve and promote health literacy and equity through communication, navigation and advocacy are also considered in the context of healthcare systems. This track may include interprofessional education, practice and/or research that addresses the implementation of interprofessional competencies specific to health literacy, communication and public health initiatives.


  • Health Literacy Research in general: outcomes, implementation, amelioration and models for EBP
  • Applied, implementation, or translational research related to the effectiveness of prevention, identification, policy, administration, advocacy and public awareness of health literacy challenges
  • Outcomes research related to enhancing health literacy, information exchange, patient engagement and public health initiatives

Professional Education

  • Innovations in promoting health communication; including written, spoken and signed communication
  • Preventing communication disorders
  • Education of professionals on how to incorporate best practices in health literacy
  • Education of other stakeholders (patients, communities) including: harm reduction (hearing hygiene; social isolation; falls and other co-morbidities); and early Identification (recognizing signs of illness, disease, disorders, delayed milestones)
  • Facilitating appropriate communication for family members and other stakeholders
  • Evaluation of health initiative outcomes
  • Health Literacy primers and tools for creating health literate counseling and education materials/interventions, including toolkits
  • Communication of health information, and counseling, for informed decision making (for provider, for patient, for both)
  • Counseling with specific attention to outcomes, including goal-setting, goal measurement, identification of barriers; and methods and techniques that significantly impact health decisions and actions
  • Individual and social factors influencing health behaviors, including: socio-economic and cultural differences; educational background; health beliefs and equity; approaches to compassionate care across communities; and trust
  • Promotion of health literacy to consumers by interprofessional teams and organizations, including use of mediated and face-to-face communication in information exchange; fostering clear communication between clients/consumers and providers; clients/consumers as partners in care and the role of shared decision making; adapting and delivering public health messages to diverse groups through innovative methods; increasing consumer knowledge and awareness about health issues; and effective means to influence and change behaviors and perspectives towards health issues
  • Connection with culturally diverse and hard-to-reach populations through health literacy
  • Increasing access and improving navigation of digital media
  • Ethical issues as they pertain to health literacy and public health initiatives
  • Shared decision making including fairness, equity, transparency, confidentiality, and use of health literacy in the promotion of autonomy and self-determination
  • Technology as applied to health literacy in optimizing outcomes for individuals and communities
  • Public health initiatives including access to interpreters and closed captioning; and equipment (virtual visits, telehealth)

Related Topics

Proposals with a primary focus on:

  • Reading literacy should be submitted to the Literacy Assessment and Intervention topic area.
  • Education models and the training of clinicians regarding health literacy, communication, and public health initiatives should be submitted to the Models of Academic and Clinical Education topic area.

About ASHA

The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) is the national professional, scientific, and credentialing association for members and affiliates who are audiologists, speech-language pathologists, speech, language, and hearing scientists, audiology and speech-language pathology support personnel, and students.

About the Convention

The ASHA Convention is one of the largest professional development events for audiologists; speech-language pathologists; and speech, language, and hearing scientists. Bringing together approximately 15,000 attendees, the annual Convention offers more than 2,500 sessions eligible for ASHA continuing education credit covering the latest research, clinical skills, and techniques in communication sciences and disorders.

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For inquiries about the ASHA Convention:

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