Health Literacy

Health Literacy From A to Z: Practical Ways to Communicate Your Health Message, Second Edition (Updated 2018)

  • Author: Helen Osborne, M.Ed., OTR
  • ISBN: 978-1-947937-13-0
  • Updated version: January 14, 2018. From Health Literacy Press, a division of Aviva Publishing
  • Available: In print and as an e-book.

To buy this book:


Health Literacy from A to Z: Practical Ways to Communicate Your Health Message, Second Edition (updated 2018) is written for someone who cares a lot about communicating health messages clearly and simply. It is also written for someone to whom health literacy is just one of many projects competing for time and attention. Whether you are a physician, nurse, pharmacist, allied health professional, case manager, public health specialist, practice manager, health educator, student, or family caregiver–this book is for you.

Intended as an easy-to-use guide, this book is written in a way to inform and inspire but not overwhelm you. There are 42 stand-alone chapters. Arranged alphabetically from A to Z, each chapter includes:

  • Starting Points. Introductory information providing context for strategies that follow.
  • Strategies, Ideas, and Suggestions. How-to ways of communicating clearly.
  • Stories from Practice. Real-life experiences that make key points “come alive.”
  • Sources to Learn More. Resources to continue learning about each topic.

Awards and special recognitions:

  • Winner of the New England chapter of the American Medical Writers Association’s esteemed Neil Duane Award of Distinction, 2012
  • Winner of the New England chapter of the American Medical Writers Association’s Will Solimene Award for Excellence, 2012
  • Winner the American Medical Writers Association’s Medical Book Award, Honorable Mention, 2012
  • Doody’s Book Reviews 5-star rating and included in its 2015 edition of core titles.
  • Consistently a best seller in several medical and health science categories on Amazon

Sampling of reader reviews:

  • “Your book is brilliant and comprehensive. It should be required reading for every medical student…and nurse, and patient. Even someone who is fairly savvy about medical terms and comfortable with doctors and nurses will benefit from this work.”Joel Kowit PhD, Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Biology, Emmanuel College, Boston, MA & Founder and Director, Immunology Workshops
  • “This timeless guide is essential for health communicators. Especially in this era of complex, consumer-drive health care, Health Literacy from A to Z is like having a trusted colleague offer thoughtful, clear, practical advice for making health information usable, understandable and always respectful.” Leigh Curtin-Wilding MSc, Director of Boston University’s Health Communication Graduate Program
  • “This book provides a great solution to this ubiquitous problem. It’s very well-written; easy to read; and chock-full of facts and information, which can be used daily in clinical practise. I especially love the ‘Stories from Practice’ which provide real life examples of how these tools can be used!” Aniruddha Malpani, MD, Mumbai, India
  • “As Patient/Family Education Coordinator for our hospital I spent a over a year learning piecemeal what is offered in a nutshell in this book. It also gives detailed ‘Sources to Learn More’ at the end of each chapter. No digging for additional info–it is right there at your fingertips. I wish I had had this book when I first started in this postion. It would have been helpful in steering me on a more efficient path.” Bonnie Ronan, Patient/Family Education Coordinator
  • “You can read the book from A to Z, if that’s your preferred approach. Or you can look up a topic of interest, such as Document Design, Interpreters and Translations, Listening and Speaking, Numeracy, Visuals, or any of the others, including several important chapters on Knowing Your Audience. My favorite way to read it is to open it up anywhere and read whatever is on that page, because everything in the book is practical what-to-do and how-to-do-it.” Naomi Karten, Author and Speaker
  • “Your book, Health Literacy from A to Z, is one of the most informative books I have ever read on the subject. It has helped me with several projects.”Kashika Sahay, Student at the University of Rochester
  • “I received a copy of Health Literacy from A to Z in the mail last week, but just now had a chance to crack the binding. What a joy it is. The tone is at once folksy and warm, but also authoritative. It contains so many good ideas for practice that I feel I ought to number them 1-365 and try one out each day. Not surprisingly, the best thing about it (to me, at any rate), is that you’ve done that Helen Osborne thing that you do so well: woven together diverse voices into a tapestry of collective wisdom. Bravo!” Don Rubin PhD, Center for Health & Risk Communication, University of Georgia

Information for instructors:

Desk copy policy. Aviva Publishing and Helen Osborne will consider requests for a complimentary desk copy of Osborne’s book, Health Literacy from A to Z: Practical Ways to Communicate Your Health Message, Second Edition (updated 2018) from instructors at accredited colleges and universities who require this text for classes of 20 or more students.

Please send an email to Helen Osborne (author) and Susan Friedmann (publisher) if you are interested in receiving a desk copy. Include your name, job title, course name, number of students expected, and when the course will be offered. Desk copies will only be shipped to institutions within the U.S. and not to personal residences.

Special offers for instructors requiring this book in classes of 20 or more students:

  • Helen Osborne is offering a brief, complimentary phone conversation to discuss your curriculum and ways to pair chapters of this book with specific Health Literacy Out Loud podcasts.
  • As schedules allow, Helen Osborne will participate in a live video call to introduce your students to health literacy and welcome them to using this book.
Helen Osborne Speaking on Health Literacy

"Our deepest thanks for helping us to kick off the Pennsylvania Health Literacy Coalition in such wonderful fashion. I also want to add my own personal thanks for the creativity, expertise, and passion you brought to our meeting. We really cannot thank you enough for your support of our work.“

Susan Choi, PhD, CPHQ
Senior Director, Quality Partnerships & Initiatives
Health Care Improvement Foundation, Philadelphia, PA