You Can't Tell By Looking!: Assessing a Patient's Ability to Read and Understand Health Information

1.0 Continuing Education Credit Hours


This module will help you determine whether a patient or family has a literacy problem. A discussion of whether or not to test a person for reading ability and comprehension is presented. Tools/tests available to measure a person's ability to read and understand health information are described, including the REALM, TOFHLA, and the Newest Vital Sign. Also included are observations and key questions to ask that provide clues to help alert you that a person has low literacy skills.


  1. Discuss the issue of whether or not to test a person for literacy level.
  2. Identify clues to look for in a person's self-care and communication behaviors that will help determine low literacy skills.
  3. Identify assessment questions that may help identify a person with low literacy skills.
  4. Describe tests available to measure a person's reading skills: Rapid Estimate of Adult Literacy in Medicine (REALM) and the Wide Range Achievement Test-Revised (WRAT-R-III).
  5. Describe tests available to measure a person's comprehension skills: Listening Test, Test of Functional Health Literacy in Adults (TOFHLA), Short TOFHLA, and Newest Vital Sign.

Online Module

When completing the on-line module you will be presented with learning objectives, brief cases, questions for reflection (not scored), and interactive lessons with hyperlinks to engage you along the way. Once you complete the lessons, you will be presented with the Module Evaluation and then the Post Test (which requires a score of 70%), followed by the opportunity to print your Continuing Education Certificate. Modules remain available for your future reference once you have completed them.