Health Literacy - elearning for healthcare
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This programme is in partnership with...
  • Health Education England
  • NHS Education for Scotland

About the Health Literacy programme

Health literacy is about people having enough knowledge, understanding, skills and confidence to use health information, to be active partners in their care, and to navigate health and social care systems. Therefore, to access, assess and apply health information, people need to be health literate. The health literacy levels in England are very low: 43% of 16 to 65-year-olds struggle with text-based health information; and 61% of 16 to 65-year-olds cannot understand health information that includes both text and numbers (Rowlands et al., 2015. View article).

People working in health and social care need to be aware of health literacy and of the techniques that can help to increase understanding.

Promoting health literacy is everyone’s responsibility. NHS Education for Scotland (NES) and Health Education England (HEE) have collaborated to develop a new elearning module to help you understand the role health literacy plays in making sure everyone has enough knowledge, understanding, skills and confidence to use health information, to be active partners in their care, and to navigate health and social care systems.

The elearning session takes about 30 minutes to complete.  At the end of the session, you will know why health literacy is important and how to use some simple techniques including TeachBack, chunk and check, using pictures and simple language to improve how you communicate and check understanding with others. After each section you can complete an action plan of how you intend to use the techniques in your practice. You can use this plan as evidence of your learning in your appraisal or professional portfolio.

Learning objectives:

  • List the benefits of health literacy to individuals and services
  • List health literacy tools and techniques
  • Explain how to use health literacy tools and techniques
  • Describe the impact of health literacy on people’s health choices
  • Create a personal action plan to be health literacy friendly

More information

This elearning resource is pitched educationally as an introduction to health literacy, why it is important and the core techniques that can be used to improve health literacy.  It has been developed in partnership by HEE and NES to raise the awareness of health literacy and its impact on health and social care staff. It supports a more blended approach to learning and spreading awareness of health literacy, building on the NES resource in The Health Literacy Place ( and HEE’s health literacy toolkit (

Meet the team

  • Ruth Carlyle

    Ruth Carlyle

    Head of Library and Knowledge Services – East of England and Midlands
  • Janet Crozier

    Janet Crozier

    Knowledge Manager, NHS Education for Scotland, NES Digital
  • Alison Farrar

    Alison Farrar

    Public Health Workforce Lead, Health Education England North West
  • Sue Hughes

    Sue Hughes

    Innovation Programme Support Officer, Health Education England North West
  • Sally James

    Sally James

    Public Health Workforce Specialist, Health Education England West Midlands
  • Annette Thain

    Annette Thain

    Principal Lead, KM and Discovery Business Unit Digital Group, NHS Education for Scotland

How to access

Available to all

The Health Literacy programme is freely available to access here.
Please note your progress and completion of sessions will not be recorded and you will not be able to generate a record of completion. If you require evidence of learning, please register and then log in to access this programme on the elfh Hub.

If you already have an account with elfh, then you can enrol on to the Health Literacy programme by logging in to the elfh Hub, selecting My Account > Enrolment and selecting the programme. You can then access the programme immediately in the My elearning section.

Register >

To view the Health Literacy programme, select the View button below. If you already have an account with elfh, you will also be able to login and enrol on the programme from the View button.

View >

Not an NHS organisation?

If you are not an NHS health or care organisation and therefore do not qualify for free access elfh Hub, you may be able to access the service by creating an OpenAthens account.

To check whether or not you qualify for free access via OpenAthens, you can view the eligibility criteria and register on the ‘OpenAthens’ portal.

Registering large numbers of users

If you are a HR, IT or Practice Manager and would like to register and enrol large numbers of staff within your organisation for access onto the Health Literacy programme, please contact elfh directly.

Organisations wishing to use their own LMS

For HR departments wanting to know more about gaining access to courses using an existing Learning Management System please contact elfh directly to express interest.

More information

Please select the following link for more information on how to use the elfh Hub.

elfh is a Health Education England Programme in partnership with the NHS and Professional Bodies