Task Force on Health Literacy

North Carolina has a high percentage of individuals with low literacy levels. This issue raises significant health implications, as individuals with low literacy skills more likely to have lower health literacy. The Chronic Diseases & Injury Section of the North Carolina Division of Public Health, part of the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NC DHHS), asked the North Carolina Institute of Medicine (NCIOM) to convene a task force to study this problem. The task force was a collaborative effort between the NCIOM, the NC DHHS, and the Area Health Education Centers (AHEC) program.

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Task Force Leadership

All Members


Thomas J. Bacon, DrPH

Executive Associate Dean and Director

NC Area Health Education Centers Program

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine

L. Allen Dobson, MD, FAAFP

Assistant Secretary for Health Policy & Medical Assistance

North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services


Health literacy is the degree to which individuals have the capacity to obtain and understand the basic health information and services needed to make appropriate health decisions. Low health literacy is associated with poor understanding of written or spoken medical advice and adverse health outcomes. Studies suggest that people with low health literacy are less likely to take their medications as prescribed or follow treatment protocols, less able to manage their chronic conditions, and more frequently hospitalized.

The goals of the task force were to study the problem and develop workable solutions to ensure that the healthcare needs of people with low health literacy skills are met. View the report to see the task force’s findings and recommendations.