Nearly one-third of the U.S. population provides unpaid, informal caregiving to a loved one or friend. Caregiver health literacy involves a complex set of actions and decisions, all shaped by communication. Existing definitions depict health literacy as individuals’ skills in obtaining, understanding, communicating, and applying health information to successfully navigate the health management process. One of the major problems with existing definitions of health literacy is that it disproportionately places responsibilities of health literacy on patients and caregivers. In this conceptual piece, we define and introduce a new model of Relational Health Literacy (RHL) that emphasizes the communicative aspects of health literacy among all stakeholders (patients, caregivers, providers, systems, and communities) and how communication functions as a pathway or barrier in co-creating health care and health management processes. Future directions and recommendations for model development are described.
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