February 11

Health Literacy Association: Discussion Group


From left to right: Michael Villaire, MSLM, Julie McKinney, MS, and Sabrina Kurtz-Rossi, MEd
From left to right: Michael Villaire, MSLM, Julie McKinney, MS, and Sabrina Kurtz-Rossi, MEd

Conversations about forming a Health Literacy Association started about a year ago, right around the time of the 2012 IHA Health Literacy Conference. Similar conversations continued at this year’s conference with an open discussion on what the next steps should be for a Health Literacy Association becoming a reality.

The discussion opened with the question: “How many here tonight have a job position that has a title with ‘health literacy’ in it?” About four people raised their hands. Kurtz-Rossi acknowledged that many more in the crowd do health literacy work as some part of their job. “As health literacy continues to become a rising profession, it’s time to take the formation of an association seriously,” Kurtz-Rossi asserted. “Tonight is about discussing what types of things you would benefit from in having an association.”

The session quickly fashioned itself into a town hall meeting where the ideas and thoughts of the community were shared. Kurtz-Rossi and many others agreed that the association should be a “very large umbrella” that provides a community for people of various professions.
McKinney added: “The idea that special interest groups from other associations become a part of the Health Literacy Association sprouted from the Listserv. Many people at this conference come from various groups, but we want to be able to centralize our supporters into an association that can produce research results, set standards, and ultimately, improve the quality of care.”

    A few questions were left for reflection:

  • Would the association be more community-oriented or regulatory?
  • If regulatory, what will be the standards of practice?
  • If we are more community-oriented, what types of services are we going to provide?
  • Are we sure that we would like a new organization? Should we keep the possibility of merging with another organization open?


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