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Health literacy is one aspect of overall literacy that has an enormous impact on patient health outcomes, including knowledge of disease, health markers, general health status, and number of hospitalizations, among others. More than 1/3 of the US population has basic or below basic health literacy status. In Chittenden County, diabetes and heart disease deaths are higher than the state average; these diseases require complex personal care and management. Health care providers working at Milton Family Practice in Milton, VT, often noted that patients were often unwilling to disclose literacy issues and there were often problems communicating instructions to patients when providers were unaware of their literacy status/abilities. Residents working at Milton Family Practice were given three simple screening questions that were validated to assess patients' health literacy status with good sensitivity and specificity. These questions are quick and easy to use and avoid many issues with embarrassment or stigma. Residents were also provided local community resources to refer patients to who may benefit from additional help, including the Milton Public Library and the Milton Family Community Center.

Clinical Site

Milton, VT


Vermont, Literacy, Health Literacy, Screening, Health Outcomes

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.


Medical Education | Primary Care

Evaluating patient literacy to improve health outcomes in Milton, VT