On October 13, 2010, the Society for Public Health Education (SOPHE) Board of Trustees published the resolution titled, Health Literacy: Gateway to Improving the Public’s Health. This four-page document, available at the society's website, contained several statements about the prominence of health illiterate individuals in America and the effects this problem ensues on the country’s medical system and citizen population. Nearly 90% of adults have difficulty using the everyday health information that is available to them (SOPHE, 2017). Lack of health literacy often leads to misunderstandings related to prescription instructions, poor comprehension of nutritional labels, inefficient use of health services and, therefore, higher healthcare costs (SOPHE, 2017). In addition, health equity is challenged — data trends show that those of lower socioeconomic backgrounds and minority groups are disproportionately health illiterate (SOPHE, 2017). Because of these facts and several others outlined in the document, SOPHE resolved to “adopt organizational policies and procedures to ensure its own communications and messages to the public, [society] members, chapters, partner organizations and other parties reflect the principles and practice of clear health communication” (SOPHE, 2017).

As a health-focused educational institution, it is critical that SOPHE and its regional chapters commit to clear communication guidelines. It is also important that members of the network advocate to other organizations and professionals who are involved in the management of public health. This work begins regionally and in the state of Michigan; the Great Lakes Chapter (GLC-SOPHE) has created an Advocacy Committee that is focused, in part, on advancing this objective. This document and following materials seek to provide readers with well-researched information on the status of health literacy efforts in the Great Lake Chapter’s home state and suggest further actions that must be taken at societal levels — local, state, and national — to obtain the highest health literacy rates possible for all individuals.