Your Guide to the Science of Health

October 11, 2020 Joe Brady

October is Health Literacy Month—a time to promote the importance of greater understanding of the science of health. Since 1999, organizations around the world have been observing October as Health Literacy Month. The advent of the COVID pandemic has increased the urgency of fundamental science and health education among the public. It’s a time to bring attention to the importance of making health information easy to understand — and making the health care system easier to navigate.

 Why is it important to know the science of health? Simply put, because there is a lot of misinformation out there—from anecdotes disguised as evidence to excessive claims made by supplement manufacturers to TV doctors and politicians touting the latest “miracle cure.”

The need for greater health literacy is even greater when it comes to self-care and the use of complementary and integrative health approaches. It can be hard to distinguish excessive claims and unsupported theories from sound, science-based information.

In this article you’ll find tools to help you better understand complex scientific topics that relate to health research so that you can be discerning about what you hear and read and make well-informed decisions about your health. Know the Science features a variety of materials including interactive modules, quizzes, and videos to provide engaging, straightforward content. Learn more about how the Know the Science initiative got started.

So, what are you waiting for? Dive in, and get to know the science.

Our Know the Science toolkit has tools to help you better understand scientific topics related to health research. Knowing more about the science of health may help you make well-informed health decisions. The toolkit is available in English and Spanish.

Know the Science Toolkit

Interactive Modules


Know the Science: 9 Questions To Help You Make Sense of Health Research

Understanding the basics of scientific studies to help you make better health decisions.


Know the Science: The Facts About Health News Stories

Find out how to tell if a news story is reliable or has missing, misleading, or conflicting information.


Know the Science: How Medications and Supplements Can Interact

Find out if the drugs and supplements you take may interact in a harmful way.


Know the Science: 6 Commonly Misunderstood Words About Complementary Health Approaches

Know, Discover, Get Informed: Videos


What Is a Placebo? Q and A with Ted Kaptchuk

Great Ted Talk by Ted Kaptchuk


Understanding Risk—Drs. Groopman and Hartzband

Know More

The HHS Health Literacy Workgroup, which includes representatives from multiple HHS agencies, collaborates to ensure that improving health literacy remains a priority at the Department. This year, the Workgroup invites everyone to celebrate by participating in health literacy activities throughout the month.

For more information about the health literacy toolkit see

Ways to Celebrate Health Literacy Month

Not sure what to do to celebrate health literacy month? Here are some ideas for health care professionals.

Learn More About Health Literacy

Interested in getting the facts about health literacy and why it’s so important? Check out some of our favorite health literacy resources from the following HHS agencies: