Do Patients Understand?

Do Patients Understand?

Suzanne Graham, RN, PhD; John Brookey, MD

Summer 2008 - Volume 12 Number 3



Communication barriers often go undetected in health care settings and can have serious effects on the health and safety of patients. Limited literacy skills are one of the strongest predictors of poor health outcomes for patients.1,2 Studies have shown that when patients have low reading fluency, they know less about their chronic diseases, they are worse at managing their care,3 and they are less likely to take preventive measures for their health.4 However, patients do not need to have limited literacy skills to have low health literacy. The Institute of Medicine defines 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."5


27,000 print readers per quarter, 11,225 eTOC readers, and in 2017, 1.5 million page views on TPJ articles in PubMed from a broad international readership.

The Permanente Press

The Permanente Journal (ISSN 1552-5767) is a peer-reviewed journal of medical science, social science in medicine, and medical humanities published quarterly by The Permanente Press.


Physicians may earn up to 1 AMA PRA Category 1 Credit per article for reading and analyzing the designated CME articles published in each edition of TPJ.

ISSN 1552-5775 Copyright © 2018

The Permanente Press. All Rights Reserved.