Rima Rudd

Senior Lecturer on Health Literacy, Education, and Policy

Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences

Department of Society, Human Development, and Health

677 Huntington Avenue
Kresge Building 7th Floor
Boston, MA 02115
Phone: 617.432.3753

Other Affiliations

Visiting Profession, London South Bank University

Visiting Senior Scholar in Health Literacy,  Horowitz Center on Health Literacy, University of Maryland, School of Public Health


Dr. Rima Rudd is Senior Lecturer on Society, Human Development, and Health at the Harvard School of Public Health.  Her work centers on health communication and the design and evaluation of public health programs. She teaches courses on innovative strategies in health education, program planning and evaluation, health literacy, and theory.

Dr. Rudd is focusing her research inquiries on literacy related disparities and literacy related barriers to health programs, services, and care. She works closely with the adult education, public health, oral health, and medical sectors and with several national literacy initiatives in Canada, England, and Europe. Her Harvard website on health literacy [] serves scholars and practitioners.

Dr. Rudd wrote several reports that are helping shape the agenda in health literacy research and practice. They include the health literacy chapter of the Health and Human Services book Communicating Health: Priorities and Strategies for Progress (2003) and the Educational Testing Services report, Literacy and Health in America (2004). She introduced the concept of a ‘health literacy environment’ that is shaping examinations of barriers to care in hospitals, health centers, and social service agencies. Her long standing emphasis on the dual components of  literacy: social system demands and the skills of individuals has re-shaped definition of terms with a focus on health literacy as an interaction and not simply a characteristic of individuals.

She served on the Institute of Medicine Committee on Health Literacy, on the National Research Council Committee on Measuring Adult Literacy, on the Joint Commission Advisory Committee on Health Literacy and Patient Safety. She currently serves on several national advisory boards and is principal investigator and co-principal investigator on several health literacy research inquiries. Dr. Rudd serves as Senior Health Literacy Advisor to the Missouri Foundation and holds appointments as Visiting Professor at London South Bank University and as Visiting Senior Scholar at the Horowitz Health Literacy Center, University of Maryland School of Public Health. Rima Rudd is considered a leader in this new field of inquiry.



Sisters Together – Sisters Together Move More Eat Better — was developed as a model program that was highlighed in the first Surgeon General’s report on physical activity. It has now become a national effort of NIDDK and is being replicated on the local level in many states through the support and encouragement of CDC. The web page was developed at project end so that we could share materials and insights with others.

Health Literacy Studies – The Health Literacy Web Page reflects accumulated materials and findings of a variety health literacy activities taking place in Health Literacy Studies [Rudd, P.I.]. The site offers an array of resources for researchers and practitioners.


Sc.D., 1986, The Johns Hopkins School of Hygiene and Public Health

MSPH, 1979, University of Massachusetts, Amherst


Selected publications

Rudd RE, Comings JP, and Hyde J. Leave no one behind: Improving health and risk communication through attention to literacy.  Journal of Health Communication, 8 (Suppl 1):104-115. 2003.

Rudd RE. Health literacy skills of U.S. adults. Journal of Health Behavior. 31(Supp 1): S8-S18. 2007.

Apter AJ, Paasche-Orlow MK, Remillard JT, Bennett IM, Ben-Joseph EP, Batista RM, Hyde J, Rudd RE. Numeracy and communication with patients: They are counting on us. Journal of General Internal Medicine, 23(12):2117.  2008.

McCormack L, Bann C, Uhrig J, Berkman N, Rudd RE.  Health insurance literacy of older adults. Journal of Consumer Affairs, 2009.

Rudd RE, Gall V, Blanch D., Chinik LB, Wrigh, EA, Reichmann W, Liang MH, Katz JN.  A Randomized controlled trial of an intervention to reduce low literacy barriers in inflammatory arthritis management. Patient Education and Counseling, 75:334-39.  2009.

Rudd RE & Keller DB.[2009]. Health Literacy: New developments and research. Journal of Communication in Healthcare, 2(3): 240-257.

Sanders LM, Shaw JS, Guez G, Baur C, Rudd RE [2009]. Health Literacy and Child Health Promotion: Implications for Research, Clinical Care, and Public Policy. Pediatrics, 124, Supplement 3: S275-281.

Selected Reports

Rudd, RE. [2003]. Health Literacy Action Plan, in Communicating Health. Office of the Surgeon General, Washington DC: HHS. 2003.

Rudd, Kirsch, Yamamoto [2004]. Literacy and Health In America. Princeton NJ: Educational Testing Services.

Committee on Health Literacy [2004].Health Literacy: a prescription to end confusion. Rudd, writer/contributor and committee member. Institute of Medicine. Washington DC: National Academies of Science.

Committee on Performance Levels for Adult Literacy [2005].   Measuring literacy: Performance levels for adults. Rudd, writer/contributor and committee member. National Research Council. Washington DC: National Academies of Science.


Selected Book Chapters


Rudd RE, Comfort L, Mongillo J, Zani L. [1994]. Student Produced Health Education Materials, chapter in Matiella (ed), Comprehensive Health Education in the Multiethnic Classroom, Santa Cruz, CA: ETR Associates.

Rudd RE, Moeykens BA, Colton T. [1999]. Health and Literacy: A review of the medical and public health literature, chapter 5 in Comings JP, Smith C, Garner B (eds), Annual Review of Adult Learning and Literacy. San Francisco CA: Josey-Bass.

Rudd, RE, Rezulli D, Perreira A, Daltroy LD [2004]. The Patient Health Experience, chapter 5 in Schwartzberg JG, VanGeest JB, Want CC, Gazmararian JA, Parker RM, Roter DL, Rudd RE, Schillinger D.   (editors). Understanding Health Literacy: Implications for Medicine and Public Health. Chicago ILL: AMA Press.

Rudd, RE, Anderson JE, Oppenheimer S, Nath C. [2007]. Health Literacy: An Update of Public Health and Medical Literature, chapter 6 in Comings JP, Garner B., Smith C. (eds), Review of Adult Learning and Literacy, volume 7.  Mahway NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, pp 175-204.