Joanne G. Schwartzberg, MD




Dr. Schwartzberg has been working in the field of health literacy and clinician-patient communication since 1997.  She led the AMA Foundation's Health Literacy Training of Trainers program, which with 38 teams around the country has reached over 40,000 health professionals.  In 2005, Dr. Schwartzberg was an editor of the first textbook in the field: Understanding Health Literacy: Implications for Medicine and Public Health. Dr. Schwartzberg served as co-chairperson for the United States Pharmacopeia Health Literacy and Prescription Container Label expert panel that developed standards for the patient-centered prescription label.

Communication and Health Literacy 101

The most effective physicians understand how to communicate with patients. That doesn't mean rattling off a diagnoses and sending them home. It requires picking up on the subtle indications that a patient has not understood. About 90 million adults in the United States have difficulty accurately and consistently locating, matching, and integrating information. These people are less likely to be able to obtain, process and understand basic health information or know how to act upon the information they are given: they have low health literacy. This session will review the current research, the communication skills that have been shown to make a difference in improving patient outcomes.


1. Understand how a patient's poor health literacy can lead to poor health outcomes;

2. Recognize the extent of the problem in the patient population you serve;

3. Learn communication techniques that can make a difference.