Health care outcomes are clearly impacted by the ability of clients to participate in their health care. Nurses have always used education to empower their patients. With the advent of the Internet the concept of patient education has been transformed to the much broader concept of consumer informatics. For increasing numbers of clients the Internet has become a primary source of health information and a major factor influencing their knowledge and decisions related to their health. Successful use of the Internet depends on several different levels and types of literacies. This paper explores the interrelations between the concepts of basic literacy, computer literacy, information literacy, health information literacy and health literacy. It demonstrates the need for client assessment tools that are sensitive to each of these literacies and their interrelations. In concludes by challenging consumer informatics specialists to develop these assessment tools as well as teaching tools for empowering consumers using the Internet.
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