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New Manual on Health Literacy

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Date Published

This training manual provides suggestions for health- promotion activities and priorities in the context of implementing the Residential Substance Abuse Treatment (RSAT) model in prison, jail, and aftercare programs.


The manual advises that facilitating access to appropriate health care services among justice-involved individuals with substance-use disorders (SUDs) is a multi-faceted process supported by health literacy. Achieving health literacy requires introducing RSAT participants to a body of knowledge and a skill set that enables them to identify and access the health services they need. The Institute of Medicine defines “health literacy” as “the degree to which individuals can obtain, process, and understand basic health information needed to make appropriate health decisions and access health care services.” This manual advises that the challenge for RSAT jail/prison and aftercare programs is to design and implement program components that provide essential health-literacy skills that enable persons with SUDs re-entering the community after incarceration to engage in health self-management. This manual offers RSAT staff tools for assessing the health literacy of jail/prison residents, materials that introduce health and wellness as a component of recovery self-management, and ways of increasing access to post-release care. It also includes a section on overdose prevention that facilitates RSAT programs in imparting basic, potentially life-saving information on where and how to access the health services needed. Online access is provided to handouts and other resources.