Report Cover: Just What Did the Doctor Order?

Just What Did the Doctor Order? Addressing Low Health Literacy in North Carolina

Published August 1, 2007

NCIOM Task Force on Health Literacy


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. Health information can be very technical and hard to understand. Most of us have had trouble understanding our doctor’s instructions at one time or another. Studies have shown 40-80% of the medical information patients receive is forgotten immediately. Nearly half of the information they do remember is incorrect.


The Task Force on Health Literacy studied ways to improve the health literacy of North Carolinians. This report presents the task force’s findings and recommendations.