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August 11, 1999

Health Literacy and the JAMA Patient Page

Author Affiliations

Margaret A.WinkerMD, Deputy EditorIndividualAuthorPhil B.FontanarosaMD, Interim CoeditorIndividualAuthor

JAMA. 1999;282(6):525-527. doi:10-1001/pubs.JAMA-ISSN-0098-7484-282-6-jbk0811

To the Editor: The Health Literacy Report of the Council on Scientific Affairs1 highlights poor functional literacy as an important, but often unrecognized, threat to patient health. This is underscored by the results presented by Gazmararian and colleagues2 reporting that more than half of the elderly Medicare enrollees in a national managed care organization demonstrated inadequate literacy. However, while we commend JAMA on its support for this work and influence in rightfully placing health literacy on the public's health agenda, we are concerned that the lessons and recommendations have not been taken home. The institution of the JAMA Patient Page in April of 1998 is a potentially important and useful resource for physicians. The Patient Page provides a specific health education resource for physicians to offer their patients, and also raises the salience of patient education needs among physicians. The strongest and most consistently significant predictor of patient satisfaction reported in the literature is the provision of information to patients.3