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Invited Commentary
October 4, 2017

Becoming Literate in Health Literacy

Author Affiliations
  • 1University of Arizona, Tucson
  • 2Health Literacy Media, St Louis, Missouri
JAMA Surg. Published online October 4, 2017. doi:10.1001/jamasurg.2017.3835

First, we would like to commend the authors for taking on this complex issue of the relationship between health literacy and surgical outcomes.1 As a fellow surgeon and professor, I (R.C.) know that surgeons are rarely singled out for exceptional communication skills. I am happy that my colleagues are entering the field of health literacy.

We are both aware that clear, succinct, understandable, and health-literate preoperative and postoperative instructions can be a significant determinant of the outcomes and the cost of care. Health literacy affects every person, health professional, and type of prevention or care. Yet, health literacy remains an afterthought or academic discussion rather than a common and essential daily practice that is integrated into every encounter.24

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