Health Literacy and Communication Strategies in Oncology: A Workshop

When: July 15, 2019 - July 16, 2019 (8:00 AM Eastern)
Where: Keck Center (100) • 500 Fifth St. NW, Washington, DC 20001

Topics Biomedical and Health Research, Diseases, Health Services, Coverage, and Access, Quality and Patient Safety
Activity: National Cancer Policy Forum
Board: Board on Health Care Services

Health literacy is the degree to which individuals can access, comprehend, and use information to make health care decisions. However, estimates suggest that more than one-third of the U.S. adult population has low health literacy. Inadequate health literacy can make it difficult for individuals to engage in healthy behaviors and navigate the health care system across the cancer care continuum. To consider opportunities to improve communication in cancer prevention and care, as well as to better support individuals with low health literacy, the Forum is collaborating with the Roundtable on Health Literacy to host a workshop on this topic.


A planning committee will plan and host a 1.5-day public workshop that will examine opportunities, methods, and strategies to improve the communication of information about cancer care at the level of the clinic visit, the health care organization, and the community. The workshop will feature invited presentations and panel discussions on topics that may include: 


  • Strategies and best practices for health care professionals to improve the communication of evidence-based information regarding cancer risk, prevention, detection, or treatment to patients and their families.
  • Effective communication strategies to build trust and counter inaccurate information about cancer, especially given the evolving nature of the evidence base and the increasing complexity of cancer care.
  • Opportunities to tailor messaging strategies and information about cancer to meet the needs of diverse populations.
  • Procedures, policies, and programs at the organizational level to assess and consistently address the diverse health literacy needs of patients and their families.


The planning committee will develop the agenda for the workshop sessions, select and invite speakers and discussants, and moderate the discussions. A proceedings of the presentations and discussions at the workshop will be prepared by a designated rapporteur in accordance with institutional guidelines.


Planning Committee Members

Karen Basen-Engquist (co-chair), The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center 
Michael Paasche-Orlow (co-chair), Boston University School of Medicine
Garnet Anderson, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and University of Washington         

Edward J. Benz, Jr., Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Harvard Medical School

Nicole F. Dowling, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention      

Christine Gunn, Boston University School of Medicine

Lori Hoffman Högg, Department of Veterans Affairs

Linda House, Cancer Support Community

Ashley Housten, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center     

Beth Karlan, David Geffen School of Medicine at University of California, Los Angeles

Lisa Kennedy Sheldon, Oncology Nursing Society

Cathy D. Meade, Moffitt Cancer Center

Randall A. Oyer, Ann B. Barshinger Cancer Institute at Penn Medicine Lancaster General Health           

Robert A. Winn, University of Illinois at Chicago

Robin Yabroff, American Cancer Society


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