Chiropractic care can be complicated for patients because of its specialized terminology for assessment, treatment plans, symptom trajectories, and potential for benign adverse events.  One solution is for chiropractors to adopt functional health literacy, interactive health literacy, and critical health literacy into patient-centered chiropractic care. Health literacy empowers patients of all backgrounds to “read” and “listen” to their bodies, verbally communicate their thoughts and needs during the chiropractic visit, and access print and digital technologies to optimize their health outcomes. See here for our recent poster describing health literacy within the chiropractic profession ( 

Based upon several U.S. and international consensus studies (2017), we advocate for chiropractors and D.C. students to use, implement, and practice health literacy competencies developed by Coleman et al. (2013 & 2017). We propose the adoption of a Health Literacy Curriculum (HLC) for chiropractors, because other health and medical professionals are adopting these competencies also.

The top consensus recommendation by the Coleman et al study (2017) was to use a “teach back” or “show me” technique with patients to check for understanding and correct misunderstandings, during the clinical visit and and during the informed consent process. In this regard, patients are asked to demonstrate their level of understanding by repeating back in their own words the information the professional has communicated to them.  To learn more about the other health literacy recommendations, please look at our poster or visit the link below to the Coleman study.


Coleman, C., Hudson, S., & Pederson, B. (2017). Prioritized health literacy and clear communication practices for health care professionals. HLRP: Health Literacy Research and Practice, 1(3): e91-e99

Coleman, C. A., Hudson, S., & Maine, L.L. (2013). Health literacy practices and educational competencies for health professionals: a consensus study.Journal of Health communication,18 Suppl 1(Suppl 1), 82-102.