Settings and sources

Information Settings

In the course of a day, a health care consumer could encounter or be asked to process and act on health information produced by: health systems, government, the private and insurance sectors, academic institutions, industry and non-profit organizations. Health communicators working on behalf of these sources must possess the skills and knowledge to communicate effectively, in a variety of formats, with consumers of all literacy levels. They also need to be aware of how consumers interact with other information sources and the health literacy skills necessary to successfully navigate among them.


A Day in the Life of a Health Care Consumer

8:00 a.m.

Checks resting blood pressure and enters result on smartphone app.


Calls insurance company to find out how much co-pay and co-insurance will be for today’s appointment with cardiologist.

Attends an appointment at the local health system to check heart health and medications. Fills out a questionnaire. Asks questions and listens to answers. Leaves with a new prescription to treat high blood pressure.
12:00 p.m.

Picks up prescription at pharmacy after appointment. Pays prescription co-pay. Receives pill bottle with instructions on the label, along with a medication guide written by the pharmaceutical company (“industry”) describing dosing and side effects.

Receives a newsletter in the mail from the local academic research center describing results of its latest heart health research study. 

Notices a public health department flyer posted in the library lobby urging community residents to get flu shots.

Attends a patient support group meeting at the local library sponsored by a national patient advocacy organization.

Take a self-guided tour of the Health Literacy Ecosystem

The Health Literacy Ecosystem offers an overview of the skills and knowledge, settings and sources, audiences, and communication formats that are foundational to our field. Navigate within and across spheres, or dive into a topic and connect to resources. We welcome your contributions.