Special Issue "Health Literacy and Equity – Interdisciplinary Perspectives and Recent Trends in Health Literacy Research and Action around the World"

Special Issue Editors

Mr. Orkan Okan
Website
Guest Editor
National Centre for Interdisciplinary Health Literacy Research, Faculty of Educational Science, Bielefeld University, Bielefeld, Germany
Interests: health literacy; health promotion; education; equity; policy research; children/youth
Assoc. Prof. Tetine Sentell
Website
Guest Editor
Office of Public Health Studies at University of Hawai‘i at Manoa, USA
Interests: health literacy; health equity; racial/ethnic health disparities; social ecological context; health policy; comparative health systems
Assoc. Prof. Sandra Vamos
Website
Guest Editor
School of Interdisciplinary Health Programs, College of Health and Human Services, Western Michigan University, USA
Interests: health literacy; health education; international health education; applied public health practice; children/youth health; health behaviour; health literacy policy

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

We are happy to inform you that the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health (IJERPH) has invited us to edit a Special Issue on “Health Literacy and Equity—Interdisciplinary Perspectives and Recent Trends in Health Literacy Research and Action Around the World.” Health literacy is a Sustainable Development Goal and a 21st century action-oriented approach to public health, health promotion, education, and health care. Health literacy describes essential skills and situational resources needed for people to find, understand, evaluate, communicate, and use information and services in a variety of forms across various settings throughout the life-course. In this sense, enhancing health literacy in populations and systems is critical to achieving health equity. Thus, health literacy is increasingly recognized as a cross-cutting global issue and health determinant and is the focus of a growing body of interdisciplinary and international research, practice, and policy.

From the WHO`s Ottawa Charter and Shanghai Declaration to the IUHPE`s health literacy position paper, health literacy is linked to empowerment and drives health equity. Therefore, this Special Issue aims to capture the current progress and future action towards health literacy in the context of equity. We welcome papers that showcase the latest policy developments, innovative practice examples, cutting-edge research, and sustainable capacity-building activities. Qualitative, quantitative, and mixed-methods research are welcome, as are case-studies, systematic reviews, and meta-analyses. We are particularly interested in the following:

  • Research considering cross-country comparisons and/or cross-sector collaborations;
  • Research promoting or evaluating a systems approach to health literacy;
  • Research that captures the contemporary discussion on theory, models, definitions, and concept analyses for different populations and age groups, including insights from other scientific disciplines;
  • Research and practice initiatives on the social function of health literacy, social contexts, social health literacy, and distributed health literacy;
  • Research and practice results that move global, national, or regional policies to action, or the evaluation of those policies in terms of health promotion and the social determinants of health;
  • Research considering capacity-building and empowerment for health literacy across professions, settings, and systems (such as education, health care, workplace, business, and government).

Prospective authors should submit a 350 word abstract by 30 April 2019 for consideration and feedback by the Guest Editors. Abstracts should be sent to the Editorial Office in advance ([email protected]) under the subject heading “IJERPH Health Literacy Special Issue.” Authors whose abstracts are accepted will be invited to submit a full manuscript by 30 December 2019. Subject to the decision of the Special Issue editors, up to five manuscripts accepted through this process will receive a waiver of the normal journal publication fee. In addition, authors may submit their paper through the normal journal submission process, and the usual journal processing fee of 1800 CHF will apply. All manuscripts will be subject to the journal’s normal peer review process.

Mr. Orkan Okan
Assoc. Prof. Tetine Sentell
Assoc. Prof. Sandra Vamos
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2300 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • health literacy
  • health equity
  • social environments and networks
  • intersectoral approaches
  • social determinants of health
  • health policy
  • capacity building

Published Papers (42 papers)

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Editorial

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Open AccessEditorial
Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Health Literacy Research Around the World: More Important Than Ever in a Time of COVID-19
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(9), 3010; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17093010 - 26 Apr 2020
Cited by 1
Abstract
As we write our editorial for a health literacy special issue in the midst of the international COVID-19 crisis, we take this opportunity to highlight the importance of individual, community, and population health literacy. We are not only in a “pandemic” but also [...] Read more.
As we write our editorial for a health literacy special issue in the midst of the international COVID-19 crisis, we take this opportunity to highlight the importance of individual, community, and population health literacy. We are not only in a “pandemic” but also an “infodemic”. Health literacy is more important than ever in the face of these global health threats, which have impacted outcomes across the levels of the socio-ecological model (SEM), including individual health behaviors, family relationships, organizational behavior, state policy-making, national mortality statistics, and the international economy in the span of weeks. Our special issue sought to pull together interdisciplinary threads guided by two principles. The first was defining health literacy as essential skills and situational resources needed for people to find, understand, evaluate, communicate, and use information and services in a variety of forms across various settings throughout their life course to promote health and wellbeing. The second was the idea that enhancing health literacy in populations and systems is critical to achieving health equity. In this time of public health need across traditional borders, the inter-sectoral and international perspectives of special issue articles are more urgent than ever. A greater understanding, appreciation, and application of health literacy can support policy action on multiple levels to address major public health challenges. Health literacy should be built deliberately as a population-level resource and community asset. We have summarized the set of articles in this special issue across the levels of the SEM, hoping their thoughtful considerations and interesting findings will help to support global health and wellness and inspire future research, policy, and practice in this global public health emergency and beyond. Full article

Research

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Open AccessArticle
Integrating a Health Literacy Lens into Nutrition Labelling Policy in Canada
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(11), 4130; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17114130 - 10 Jun 2020
Abstract
An increasingly important concern in public health practice is health literacy. Simply stated, it refers to the interactions between individuals and health related information to make informed decisions concerning their health. Research shows that consumers face many health literacy challenges in accessing, understanding [...] Read more.
An increasingly important concern in public health practice is health literacy. Simply stated, it refers to the interactions between individuals and health related information to make informed decisions concerning their health. Research shows that consumers face many health literacy challenges in accessing, understanding and evaluating nutrition labelling information when making food choices. The systematic integration of health literacy considerations into social science and consumer behaviour research can help address these challenges and better meet the needs of the increasingly diverse Canadian population. This application of a health literacy lens should be considered for all future food and nutrition labelling research, to maximize the positive impact of subsequent health policies and regulations on health outcomes and health status of Canadians. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Organizational Health Literacy in Facilities for People with Disabilities: First Results of an Explorative Qualitative and Quantitative Study
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(8), 2886; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17082886 - 22 Apr 2020
Cited by 1
Abstract
To date, studies on individual and organizational health literacy (OHL) in facilities for people with disabilities are scarce. Thus, the aims of this study are (1) to adapt an existing instrument for measuring organizational health literacy (OHL), namely, the “Health literate health care [...] Read more.
To date, studies on individual and organizational health literacy (OHL) in facilities for people with disabilities are scarce. Thus, the aims of this study are (1) to adapt an existing instrument for measuring organizational health literacy (OHL), namely, the “Health literate health care organization scale” (HLHO-10), to the context of facilities for people with disabilities, (2) to quantitatively examine characteristics of OHL, and (3) to qualitatively assess the definition and role of OHL by interviewing managers and skilled staff. An online study in Germany with N = 130 managers and skilled staff in facilities for people with disabilities was conducted, using the adapted HLHO-10 questionnaire. Univariate analyses were applied. Qualitative content analysis was used to investigate interview data from N = 8 managers and skilled staff from N = 8 facilities for people with disabilities in Hesse, Germany. Quantitative results revealed that respondents reported a below-average level in HLHO-10, with the lowest level found in the attribute of participative development of health information. The qualitative findings showed a clear need for improved navigation to and in facilities. The quantitative and qualitative findings are mainly consistent. Future research and measures should focus on facilities for people with disabilities in order to strengthen the development of and access to target-group-specific health information, as well as to establish a health-literate working and living environment. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Development and Psychometric Properties of a Questionnaire Assessing Self-Reported Generic Health Literacy in Adolescence
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(8), 2860; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17082860 - 21 Apr 2020
Cited by 1
Abstract
Health literacy is a promising approach to promoting health and preventing disease among children and adolescents. Promoting health literacy in early stages of life could contribute to reducing health inequalities. However, it is difficult to identify concrete needs for action as there are [...] Read more.
Health literacy is a promising approach to promoting health and preventing disease among children and adolescents. Promoting health literacy in early stages of life could contribute to reducing health inequalities. However, it is difficult to identify concrete needs for action as there are few age-adjusted measures to assess generic health literacy in young people. Our aim was to develop a multidimensional measure of health literacy in German to assess generic health literacy among 14- to 17-year-old adolescents, namely, the “Measurement of Health Literacy Among Adolescents Questionnaire” (MOHLAA-Q). The development process included two stages. Stage 1 comprised the development and validation using a literature review, two rounds of cognitive interviews, two focus groups and two rounds of expert assessments by health literacy experts. Stage 2 included a standard pretest (n = 625) of the questionnaire draft to examine the psychometric properties, reliability and different validity aspects. The MOHLAA-Q consists of 29 items in four scales: (A) “Dealing with health-related information (HLS-EU-Q12-adolescents-DE)”; (B) “Communication and interaction skills”, (C) “Attitudes toward one’s own health and health information”, and (D) “Health-related knowledge”. The confirmatory factor analysis indicated a multidimensional structure of the MOHLAA-Q. The internal consistency coefficients (Cronbach’s α) of the scales varied from 0.54 to 0.77. The development of the MOHLAA-Q constitutes a significant step towards the comprehensive measurement of adolescents’ health literacy. However, further research is necessary to re-examine its structural validity and to improve the internal consistency of two scales. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Using the Health Literacy Questionnaire (HLQ) with Providers in the Early Intervention Setting: A Qualitative Validity Testing Study
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(7), 2603; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17072603 - 10 Apr 2020
Cited by 1
Abstract
More than one in four parents in the United States of America (USA) have low health literacy, which is associated with reduced health equity and negatively impacts child health outcomes. Early intervention (EI) programs are optimally placed to build the health literacy capacity [...] Read more.
More than one in four parents in the United States of America (USA) have low health literacy, which is associated with reduced health equity and negatively impacts child health outcomes. Early intervention (EI) programs are optimally placed to build the health literacy capacity of caregivers, which could improve health equity. The health literacy of interdisciplinary EI providers has not previously been measured. This study used the Health Literacy Questionnaire (HLQ) with EI providers (n = 10) to investigate evidence based on response (cognitive) processes. Narratives from cognitive interviews gave reasons for HLQ score choices, and concordance and discordance between HLQ item intent descriptions and narrative data were assessed using thematic analysis. Results found scales with highest concordance for Scales 3, 6, and 9 (each 96%, n = 24). Concordance was lowest on Scale 5 (88%, n = 22), although still strong with only 12% discordance. Three themes reflecting discordance were identified: (1) Differences between Australian and USA culture/health systems; (2) Healthcare provider perspective; and (3) Participants with no health problems to manage. Results show strong concordance between EI providers’ narrative responses and item intents. Study results contribute validity evidence for the use of HLQ data to inform interventions that build health literacy capacity of EI providers to then empower and build the health literacy of EI parents. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Potentials of School Nursing for Strengthening the Health Literacy of Children, Parents and Teachers
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(7), 2577; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17072577 - 09 Apr 2020
Cited by 1
Abstract
Health literacy (HL) plays a key role in explaining health disparities. School nurses (SN) provide health related expertise within the school setting. A positive effect on the HL of children but also their teachers and parents has been suggested by some research, but [...] Read more.
Health literacy (HL) plays a key role in explaining health disparities. School nurses (SN) provide health related expertise within the school setting. A positive effect on the HL of children but also their teachers and parents has been suggested by some research, but gaps persist in the available information. As a pilot project, SN, which are not common in German schools, were placed in 28 public elementary and secondary schools in two German states. Children (11+ years, n = 2773), parents (n = 3978) and teachers (n = 420) participated in a 2017 baseline (T0) survey. Data collection was repeated in 2018 (T1). HL was measured using the Health Literacy for School-Aged Children scale (HLSAC) (children) and the European Health Literacy Short Scale (HLS-EU-Q16) (adults). Descriptive and multivariate data analyses were carried out. The HL of all groups increased between T0 and T1. Low child HL decreased from 17.9% to 14.9%. Problematic and inadequate HL dropped from 43.8% to 38.8% among parents and from 49.9% to 45.8% among teachers. Improvements were significant for children and parents but not for the teachers. Despite the relatively short intervention period and a relatively non-specific spectrum of interventions, there is some evidence that SN may contribute to strengthening HL within the school setting. The longer-term effects of SN on health literacy and child health should be further examined. For this, a clearer conceptualization of the scope of work of the SN in Germany including their educational interventions is imperative. Full article
Open AccessArticle
The Effectiveness of the Good Affordable Food Intervention for Adults with Low Socioeconomic Status and Small Incomes
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(7), 2535; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17072535 - 07 Apr 2020
Cited by 2
Abstract
Good Affordable Food (GAF) is a small-group nutrition education intervention for adults with low socioeconomic status and small incomes. It aims to empower participants to save money on groceries and consume healthier diets. This paper reports the short-term and longer-term effects on behavioural [...] Read more.
Good Affordable Food (GAF) is a small-group nutrition education intervention for adults with low socioeconomic status and small incomes. It aims to empower participants to save money on groceries and consume healthier diets. This paper reports the short-term and longer-term effects on behavioural determinants and self-reported behavioural changes. A quasi-experimental control group design was applied with a baseline measurement, a post-test immediately after the intervention, and a follow-up measurement after six months. The study included 237 participants (intervention group: n = 131; control group: n = 106) at baseline, 197 at post-test, and 152 at follow-up. Data were collected by telephone, mostly using closed interview questions. Positive short-term and longer-term effects were found for attitude towards the costs of healthy foods, food label use, and the use of liquid butter or oil to prepare hot meals. Short-term intervention effects related to knowledge towards saving money on groceries, self-efficacy towards healthy eating, portion size awareness, and mindful eating. GAF was effective in changing some determinants and behaviours related to cost and food consumption, however, mostly in the short term. Thereby, it is an example of combining pricing and health information in nutrition education that developers of effective nutrition education for low-income groups can build on. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Dementia Literacy in the Greater Bay Area, China: Identifying the At-Risk Population and the Preferred Types of Mass Media for Receiving Dementia Information
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(7), 2511; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17072511 - 07 Apr 2020
Cited by 1
Abstract
Background: The aim of this cross-sectional study was to assess the dementia literacy of community-dwelling adults in four cities (Hong Kong, Guangzhou, Macau, and Zhuhai) of the Greater Bay Area of China, and to determine their mass media preferences for receiving dementia information. [...] Read more.
Background: The aim of this cross-sectional study was to assess the dementia literacy of community-dwelling adults in four cities (Hong Kong, Guangzhou, Macau, and Zhuhai) of the Greater Bay Area of China, and to determine their mass media preferences for receiving dementia information. Methods: The survey was completed by 787 community-dwelling adults. Dementia literacy was indirectly measured using two validated scales—the 30-item Alzheimer’s Disease Knowledge Scale and the 20-item Dementia Attitude Scale (DAS). Participants were also asked to indicate whether they wanted to receive dementia information via digital or traditional media. Chi-square tests, logistic regressions, and MANOVA analyses were conducted. Results: Unemployed or retired people had poor attitudes towards dementia and lower levels of knowledge about dementia. Single, cohabiting, or divorced people in Hong Kong and Macau had lower DAS scores than married people. Young people and those with a secondary education preferred to get their dementia information from social media. People with a tertiary education and employed people enjoyed searching government or hospital websites for information. Middle-aged, unemployed, or retired people tended to learn about dementia from television or radio. Conclusion: It is worth educating the public about dementia and developing strategies consistent with their preferences for types of mass media. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Inclusion of People with Intellectual Disabilities in Health Literacy: Lessons Learned from Three Participative Projects for Future Initiatives
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(7), 2455; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17072455 - 03 Apr 2020
Cited by 1
Abstract
Background: People with intellectual disabilities (IDs) constitute a high-risk group in relation to several diseases. Promoting their health literacy (HL) could be highly beneficial in the management of health information and making informed decisions. However, there are varying ranges of cognitive, communication [...] Read more.
Background: People with intellectual disabilities (IDs) constitute a high-risk group in relation to several diseases. Promoting their health literacy (HL) could be highly beneficial in the management of health information and making informed decisions. However, there are varying ranges of cognitive, communication and literacy levels in people with IDs. According to our literature review, a HL concept for this target group has not been adequately conceptualized. Methods: To increase knowledge about the target group, adapted HL results from three innovative (research) projects are presented. Results: The key factors are: a) target group orientation; b) social context and everyday life; c) individual resources, like communication and literacy levels; d) a multi-modal strategy to strengthen HL; and e) the self-determination and participation of people with IDs. Conclusions: The projects illustrate that the HL of people with IDs has been successfully addressed by taking these key factors into account. A target-group-orientated HL concept could affect more than positive health outcomes; it could also empower a high-risk group in relation to health problems. However, to develop successful action concepts and strategies, valid data are crucial. The heterogeneity of people with IDs is one of the biggest challenges in obtaining such data. Future studies will need to face these challenges. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Considering Health Literacy, Health Decision Making, and Health Communication in the Social Networks of Vulnerable New Mothers in Hawai‘i: A Pilot Feasibility Study
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(7), 2356; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17072356 - 31 Mar 2020
Cited by 1
Abstract
Health literacy is understudied in the context of social networks. Our pilot study goal was to consider this research gap among vulnerable, low-income mothers of minority ethnic background in the state of Hawai‘i, USA. Recruitment followed a modified snowball sampling approach. First, we [...] Read more.
Health literacy is understudied in the context of social networks. Our pilot study goal was to consider this research gap among vulnerable, low-income mothers of minority ethnic background in the state of Hawai‘i, USA. Recruitment followed a modified snowball sampling approach. First, we identified and interviewed seven mothers (“egos”) in a state-sponsored home visiting program. We then sought to interview individuals whom each mother said was part of her health decision-making network (“first-level alters”) and all individuals whom the first-level alters said were part of their health decision-making networks (“second-level alters”). Health literacy was self-reported using a validated item. A total of 18 people were interviewed, including all mothers (n = 7), 35% of the first-level alters (n = 7/20), and 36% of the second-level alters (n = 4/11). On average, the mothers made health decisions with 2.9 people (range: 1-6); partners/spouses and mothers/mothers-in-law were most common. One mother had low health literacy; her two first-level alters also had low health literacy. Across the full sample, the average number of people in individuals’ health decision networks was 2.5 (range: 0–7); 39% of those interviewed had low health literacy. This can inform the design of future studies and successful interventions to improve health literacy. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Health Literacy among Health and Social Care University Students
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(7), 2273; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17072273 - 27 Mar 2020
Cited by 1
Abstract
Health literacy has been defined by the World Health Organization as the cognitive and social skills which determine the motivation and ability of individuals to gain access to, understand and use information in ways which promote and maintain good health. Its importance in [...] Read more.
Health literacy has been defined by the World Health Organization as the cognitive and social skills which determine the motivation and ability of individuals to gain access to, understand and use information in ways which promote and maintain good health. Its importance in reducing inequalities makes health literacy a thematic area that should be addressed in the training of professionals in the fields of healthcare, Social Work and Education. The objective of this study was to define the health literacy levels of students from the Universities of Girona and Barcelona (Spain) and the Regional Institute of Social Work in Perpignan (France). A cross-sectional study was conducted among students of Nursing, Social Work, Primary Education and Special Education in the 2017–2018 academic year. Sociodemographic and academic variables were considered and the HLS-EU-Q16 questionnaire was used to study health literacy levels. In total, 219 students with an average age of 24.9 participated. Of these, 64.4% were studying Social Work, 23.7% Nursing, 5.9% Primary Education, and 5.9% Special Education. Of the total sample, 36.5% were classified as sufficient in health literacy. The total average score of the health literacy index was 11.1; 13.2 among Nursing students; 10.5 among Social Work students; 10.1 among Primary Education students, and 10.1 among Special Education students (p < 0.001). Nursing students obtained the best results and healthcare was the highest rated subdomain, more than disease prevention and health promotion. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Gender-Specific Aspects of Health Literacy: Perceptions of Interactions with Migrants among Health Care Providers in Germany
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(7), 2189; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17072189 - 25 Mar 2020
Cited by 2
Abstract
Health literacy can be described as a complex process shaped by individual resources and preferences and by the nature and quality of health-related information people encounter. The main objective of this study was to explore the views of health care professionals on how [...] Read more.
Health literacy can be described as a complex process shaped by individual resources and preferences and by the nature and quality of health-related information people encounter. The main objective of this study was to explore the views of health care professionals on how gender as a personal determinant of health literacy affected their interactions with migrant patients. The interrelated challenges, needs and applied solutions were analyzed from a health literacy perspective. Five focus group discussions with health care professionals working with migrants (n = 31) were conducted in Cologne, Germany, audio recorded, transcribed and analyzed by qualitative content analysis. Gender-specific aspects, such as the gender of health care providers as a factor, were portrayed above all in relation to patients from Turkey and Arab countries regarding access to and understanding of health-related information. These statements exclusively represent the possibly biased or assumptions-based perspectives of health care professionals on their migrant patients and were made against the background of a systemic lack of time and the challenge of overcoming language barriers. Especially in this context, reducing time pressure and improving communication in the treatment setting may be to the benefit of all actors within healthcare. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Relationship between Determinants of Health, Equity, and Dimensions of Health Literacy in Patients with Cardiovascular Disease
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(6), 2082; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17062082 - 20 Mar 2020
Cited by 1
Abstract
Background: Health literacy (HL) has been linked to empowerment, use of health services, and equity. Evaluating HL in people with cardiovascular health problems would facilitate the development of suitable health strategies care and reduce inequity. Aim: To investigate the relationship between different [...] Read more.
Background: Health literacy (HL) has been linked to empowerment, use of health services, and equity. Evaluating HL in people with cardiovascular health problems would facilitate the development of suitable health strategies care and reduce inequity. Aim: To investigate the relationship between different dimensions that make up HL and social determinants in patients with cardiovascular disease. Methods: Observational, descriptive, cross-sectional study in patients with cardiovascular disease, aged 50–85 years, accessing primary care services in Valencia (Spain) in 2018–2019. The Health Literacy Questionnaire was used. Results: 252 patients. Age was significantly related with the ability to participate with healthcare providers (p = 0.043), ability to find information (p = 0.022), and understanding information correctly to know what to do (p = 0.046). Level of education was significant for all HL dimensions. Patients without studies scored lower in all dimensions. The low- versus middle-class social relationship showed significant results in all dimensions. Conclusions: In patients with cardiovascular disease, level of education and social class were social determinants associated with HL scores. Whilst interventions at individual level might address some HL deficits, inequities in access to cardiovascular care and health outcomes would remain unjustly balanced unless structural determinants of HL are taken into account. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
The Role of School Leaders’ Health Literacy for the Implementation of Health Promoting Schools
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(6), 1855; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17061855 - 12 Mar 2020
Cited by 2
Abstract
Background: The promotion of health literacy is seen as an urgent goal in public health and education and, hence, should be integrated in the school context as a component of the holistic health promoting school (HPS) approach. However, only limited empirical studies have [...] Read more.
Background: The promotion of health literacy is seen as an urgent goal in public health and education and, hence, should be integrated in the school context as a component of the holistic health promoting school (HPS) approach. However, only limited empirical studies have addressed health literacy of school staff so far. Hence, this study aimed to examine the level of health literacy among school leaders and its association with the extent of HPS implementation. Methods: A cross-sectional study with n = 680 school principals and members of the school management board from Germany was carried out at the end of 2018. Individual health literacy, attitudes, and competencies towards HPS and occupational self-efficacy served as independent variables and the level of HPS implementation was the dependent variable. Data were analyzed using univariate and bivariate analysis as well as multiple binary logistic regression. Results: 29.3% of school leaders show a limited health literacy with significantly higher values found for male respondents. Regression analyses revealed that male gender (OR: 1.91, 95% CI: 1.22–2.99), HPS attitudes (OR: 3.17, 95% CI: 2.13–4.72), and HPS competencies (OR: 3.66, 95% CI: 2.43–5.50) were associated with a lower level of HPS implementation. Furthermore, regression analyses differentiated by gender showed that limited health literacy is associated with a low level of HPS implementation for male school leaders only (OR: 2.81, 95% CI: 1.22–6.45). Conclusions: The promotion of health literacy especially for male leaders would not only result in positive effects on an individual level but also could contribute to a stronger implementation of activities on school health promotion. We suggest integrating health literacy, HPS attitudes, and competencies more strongly into the qualification and in further training of school leaders. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Exploring Associated Factors of Subjective Health Literacy in School-Aged Children
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(5), 1720; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17051720 - 06 Mar 2020
Cited by 2
Abstract
Low health literacy is considered to lead to worse health-related outcomes and behaviors and has therefore been recognized as a social determinant of health. While health literacy and its potential determinants have been studied in adults, little research has been conducted with children. [...] Read more.
Low health literacy is considered to lead to worse health-related outcomes and behaviors and has therefore been recognized as a social determinant of health. While health literacy and its potential determinants have been studied in adults, little research has been conducted with children. This study aims to address this research gap by investigating factors associated with children’s subjective health literacy. Cross-sectional data was collected from fourth graders at German schools with a self-report questionnaire. Sociodemographic characteristics, health-related attitudes, and motivation were analyzed. We used hierarchical multivariate linear regression to explain variance in the dependent variable “subjective health literacy”. A total of n = 907 fourth graders were surveyed. Regarding health literacy, eight out of ten participants (82.2%) reported that it was “rather easy” or “very easy” to deal with health-related information. Family affluence, but not language spoken at home, was significantly related to subjective health literacy, after controlling for confounding. Moreover, parental health orientation, self-efficacy, and motivation are factors significantly associated with health literacy. Based on the results of this study, it is hypothesized that a general motivation to learn new things about health, as well as an environment promoting health-positive behavior, might foster children’s health literacy. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Health Literacy as Communicative Action—A Qualitative Study among Persons at Risk in the Context of Predictive and Preventive Medicine
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(5), 1718; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17051718 - 05 Mar 2020
Cited by 2
Abstract
Predictive and preventive medicine play an increasingly important role in public debates on health, providing cutting-edge technologies with the potential to measure and predict individual risks of getting ill. This leads to an ever-expanding definitional space between being “healthy” and being “ill”, challenging [...] Read more.
Predictive and preventive medicine play an increasingly important role in public debates on health, providing cutting-edge technologies with the potential to measure and predict individual risks of getting ill. This leads to an ever-expanding definitional space between being “healthy” and being “ill”, challenging the individual’s everyday life, attitudes and perceptions towards the self and the process of health-related decision-making. “How do the condition of ‘being at risk’ and individual health literacy interrelate?” is the leading question of the current contribution. Drawing on empirical qualitative data, collected by means of narrative interviews with persons at risk in four clinical fields, a bottom-up ethnographic and health sciences perspective on health literacy (with an emphasis on critical health literacy) is employed. The findings will be embedded within theoretical approaches dealing with power relations and communication in healthcare encounters, particularly Habermas’ theory of communicative action. The core outcome of our study is a concept for an overarching model of health literacy in the context of health-related risk prediction across indications, based on empirical insights gained through interpretative analysis of the four clinical domains. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
The Relationship between Health Literacy, Quality of Life, and Subjective Health: Results of a Cross-Sectional Study in a Rural Region in Germany
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(5), 1683; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17051683 - 05 Mar 2020
Cited by 2
Abstract
Low health literacy is associated with poorer health and quality of life. An open question is whether a regional integrated healthcare system whose management strives to enable and empower its members with regard to health issues can contribute to a higher level of [...] Read more.
Low health literacy is associated with poorer health and quality of life. An open question is whether a regional integrated healthcare system whose management strives to enable and empower its members with regard to health issues can contribute to a higher level of health literacy in the population. Against this background, in a cross-sectional study we surveyed a random selection of members of an integrated healthcare system in southwestern Germany (n = 180). The standardized questionnaire included, inter alia, questions on health literacy and subjective health. In this sample we wanted to (1) determine the proportion of respondents with sufficient health literacy and (2) investigate whether the association between health literacy and quality of life and subjective health status—as found in other studies—can be replicated. In our sample a health literacy score could be calculated in 126 subjects (70%). A sufficient level of health literacy was detected in 62% of respondents. Confirming the findings of a meta-analysis based on international studies, we found moderate correlations between health literacy and quality of life (r = 0.41) and health literacy and subjective health status (r = 0.40); these correlations hardly decreased when we controlled for various sociodemographic characteristics. As the proportion of respondents with sufficient health literacy was higher in our sample than in comparable studies conducted in Germany, we may hypothesize that an integrated healthcare system like the one we surveyed could have contributed to increased health literacy in the population. Thus, it could be worthwhile to investigate this research question with a more rigorous study design and a larger sample. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Health Literacy: From a Property of Individuals to One of Communities
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(5), 1601; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17051601 - 02 Mar 2020
Cited by 1
Abstract
Health literacy (HL) is increasingly hailed as a strategy to improve the control individuals have over their health. A central critic of HL intervention is its overemphasis on individual level factors, something recognised in the 2008 report of the Commission of Social Determinants [...] Read more.
Health literacy (HL) is increasingly hailed as a strategy to improve the control individuals have over their health. A central critic of HL intervention is its overemphasis on individual level factors, something recognised in the 2008 report of the Commission of Social Determinants of Health (SDoH) that recommended expanding the scope of HL to cover the SDoH. The objective of our study was to assess the extent to which recent progress on HL captures the need for collective action on the SDoH. We conducted a scoping review on PubMed looking for review papers published between 2013–2018 in English and French. Definitions of HL were analysed against two main dimensions (i.e., locus of change of HL strategies and foreseen outcome of HL improvements). Despite a number of authors calling for more research on HL interventions at the community level and an expansion of the definition to cover the SDoH, we found that the recommendation of the Commission has yet to be implemented. Even when the definitions include the capacities of individuals on distal determinants, both the locus of change and outcomes of HL improvement do not go beyond intra individual factors (knowledge, skills, etc.). It is noteworthy that communities were either framed as a setting outside of health care services or as an aggregate of individuals. We found no instance of HL intervention regarding communities as complex systems of actors sharing a common space and dynamic. We conclude by suggesting a new definition of HL and by drawing attention to the research gap in addressing the upstream SDoH through HL actions. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
The Evidence-Based Development of an Intervention to Improve Clinical Health Literacy Practice
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(5), 1513; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17051513 - 26 Feb 2020
Cited by 2
Abstract
Low health literacy is an issue with high prevalence in the UK and internationally. It has a social gradient with higher prevalence in lower social groups and is linked with higher rates of long-term health conditions, lower self-rated health, and greater difficulty self-managing [...] Read more.
Low health literacy is an issue with high prevalence in the UK and internationally. It has a social gradient with higher prevalence in lower social groups and is linked with higher rates of long-term health conditions, lower self-rated health, and greater difficulty self-managing long-term health conditions. Improved medical services and practitioner awareness of a patient’s health literacy can help to address these issues. An intervention was developed to improve General Practitioner and Practice Nurse health literacy skills and practice. A feasibility study was undertaken to examine and improve the elements of the intervention. The intervention had two parts: educating primary care doctors and nurses about identifying and enhancing health literacy (patient capacity to get hold of, understand and apply information for health) to improve their health literacy practice, and implementation of on-screen ‘pop-up’ notifications that alerted General Practitioners (GPs) and nurses when seeing a patient at risk of low health literacy. Rapid reviews of the literature were undertaken to optimise the intervention. Four General Practices were recruited, and the intervention was then applied to doctors and nurses through training followed by alerts via the practice clinical IT system. After the intervention, focus groups were held with participating practitioners and a patient and carer group to further develop the intervention. The rapid literature reviews identified (i) key elements for effectiveness of doctors and nurse training including multi-component training, role-play, learner reflection, and identification of barriers to changing practice and (ii) key elements for effectiveness of alerts on clinical computer systems including ‘stand-alone’ notification, automatically generated and prominent display of advice, linkage with practitioner education, and use of notifications within a targeted environment. The findings from the post-hoc focus groups indicated that practitioner awareness and skills had improved as a result of the training and that the clinical alerts reminded them to incorporate this into their clinical practice. Suggested improvements to the training included more information on health literacy and how the clinical alerts were generated, and more practical role playing including initiating discussions on health literacy with patients. It was suggested that the wording of the clinical alert be improved to emphasise its purpose in improving practitioner skills. The feasibility study improved the intervention, increasing its potential usefulness and acceptability in clinical practice. Future studies will explore the impact on clinical care through a pilot and a randomised controlled trial. Full article
Open AccessArticle
How Did Parents View the Impact of the Curriculum-Based HealthLit4Kids Program Beyond the Classroom?
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(4), 1449; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17041449 - 24 Feb 2020
Cited by 1
Abstract
The HealthLit4Kids program aims to build health literacy in a participatory and contextually relevant way. Whole-of-school and curriculum strategies aim to empower and build capacity to make informed health choices amongst students, teachers, parents, and their local community. The aim of this study [...] Read more.
The HealthLit4Kids program aims to build health literacy in a participatory and contextually relevant way. Whole-of-school and curriculum strategies aim to empower and build capacity to make informed health choices amongst students, teachers, parents, and their local community. The aim of this study was to evaluate the HealthLit4Kids program from the perspective of parents, using a Self-Determination Theory framework. This is one component within a larger evaluation of the program. Parents at four Australian primary schools were interviewed post-program. Qualitative data collected through parent interviews were analyzed thematically to identify themes, and coding checks were completed by experienced qualitative researchers. The three key themes identified were student engagement, behaviour change, and parent engagement. Findings also indicated that parents placed a high value on effective communication from schools and raised a range of health areas such as food and nutrition, physical activity, and mental health with the interviewer. Parent opinions of the HealthLit4Kids program were positive, with many reporting a perceived increase in their children’s ability to understand, communicate and act on health-related knowledge at home. The HealthLit4Kids program requires further research to determine its viability as an optimal pedagogical strategy for the health literacy development of primary school-aged children. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Health Literacy and Active Transport in Austria: Results from a Rural Setting
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(4), 1404; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17041404 - 21 Feb 2020
Cited by 1
Abstract
Health literacy (HL) has been determined for the general population and for subgroups, though the relationship between HL and active transport in rural areas was not explored. The aim of our study is to investigate HL among citizens in an Austrian rural region [...] Read more.
Health literacy (HL) has been determined for the general population and for subgroups, though the relationship between HL and active transport in rural areas was not explored. The aim of our study is to investigate HL among citizens in an Austrian rural region and to explore the associations between HL and active transport. This cross-sectional telephone survey included 288 adults (171 women) with a mean age of 57.8 (SD 0.9). HL was assessed using the HLS-EU-Q16 questionnaire. Active transport was measured as the minutes per week spent on walking or cycling from A to B. After descriptive analysis, the association between HL and active transport was assessed using linear regression models. The mean HL score for all participants was 37.1 (SD 7.7). Among all subjects, 6.9% showed inadequate HL, 25.7% problematic HL, 38.9% sufficient HL, and 28.5% excellent HL. HL was significantly higher among citizens with high education (p = 0.04) and training/employment in healthcare (p = 0.001). Active transport was not associated with HL (p = 0.281). Active transport in rural areas might be influenced by other predictors like distance to work, street connectivity, and accessible facilities for walking and biking. This needs to be explored further for rural areas. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Adolescent Health Literacy in Beijing and Melbourne: A Cross-Cultural Comparison
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(4), 1242; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17041242 - 14 Feb 2020
Cited by 2
Abstract
While adolescent health literacy has gained momentum, it is under-researched from a cross-cultural perspective. This study aims to compare health literacy among two cultural groups of secondary students in Beijing and Melbourne. A cross-sectional study was conducted with 770 students from five secondary [...] Read more.
While adolescent health literacy has gained momentum, it is under-researched from a cross-cultural perspective. This study aims to compare health literacy among two cultural groups of secondary students in Beijing and Melbourne. A cross-sectional study was conducted with 770 students from five secondary schools in Beijing and Melbourne. A self-administered questionnaire was designed to collect information on health literacy (the eight-item health literacy assessment tool (HLAT-8), the Newest Vital Sign (NVS) and the 47-item Health Literacy Survey (HLS-47)), its antecedents and health outcomes. Overall, students’ health literacy in Melbourne (n = 120) was higher than that in Beijing (n = 650): 28.25 ± 6.00 versus 26.37 ± 5.89 (HLAT-8); and 4.13 ± 1.73 versus 3.65 ± 1.64 (NVS). The proportion of students with low health literacy varied by instruments, representing 23.7–32.2% in Melbourne and 29.0%–45.5% in Beijing. In both cultural groups, students’ self-efficacy, social support, and perceptions of school environment were associated with their health literacy, which in turn predicted their health behaviours, patient-provider communication and health status. Given the nature of our study design and small samples, a cautious conclusion would be that adolescent health literacy is sensitive to the broad cultural context and might be an interactive outcome influenced by an individual’s health skills and the social environment. Particularly, creating a supportive school environment is critical to develop adolescent health literacy that would eventually contribute to better health outcomes. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Health Literacy as a Shared Capacity: Does the Health Literacy of a Country Influence the Health Disparities among Immigrants?
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(4), 1149; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17041149 - 12 Feb 2020
Cited by 2
Abstract
Health literacy (HL) is an individual ability as well as a distributed resource available within an individual’s social network. We performed an explorative study assessing the role of HL as the country-level ecological variable in predicting the health disparities among immigrants. Country-level HL [...] Read more.
Health literacy (HL) is an individual ability as well as a distributed resource available within an individual’s social network. We performed an explorative study assessing the role of HL as the country-level ecological variable in predicting the health disparities among immigrants. Country-level HL data were obtained from the publicly available first European Health Literacy Survey reports. Individual-level data on citizenship, perceived health status, body mass index, smoking habits, physical activity and attendance at breast and cervical cancer screening were extracted from the European Health Interview Survey of Eurostat. Data from both sources were obtained for Austria, Bulgaria, Greece, Poland and Spain. The country-specific odds ratio (OR) for the association between the participants’ citizenship and other individual health-relevant characteristics was pooled into summary OR using random-effects models. Meta-regression was used to explore whether the HL of a country could explain part of the between-countries heterogeneity. Results: For the perceived health status, nutritional status and attendance at cervical cancer screening, the lower was the country-level HL (as ecological variable), the higher were the health inequalities relating to citizenship. The results of our exploratory research suggest that improving the population HL may help mitigate health inequalities between residents and migrants. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Improving Organizational Health Literacy Responsiveness in Cardiac Rehabilitation Using A Co-Design Methodology: Results from The Heart Skills Study
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(3), 1015; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17031015 - 05 Feb 2020
Cited by 1
Abstract
For health services, improving organizational health literacy responsiveness is a promising approach to enhance health and counter health inequity. A number of frameworks and tools are available to help organizations boost their health literacy responsiveness. These include the Ophelia (OPtimising HEalth LIteracy and [...] Read more.
For health services, improving organizational health literacy responsiveness is a promising approach to enhance health and counter health inequity. A number of frameworks and tools are available to help organizations boost their health literacy responsiveness. These include the Ophelia (OPtimising HEalth LIteracy and Access) approach centered on local needs assessments, co-design methodologies, and pragmatic intervention testing. Within a municipal cardiac rehabilitation (CR) setting, the Heart Skills Study aimed to: (1) Develop and test an organizational health literacy intervention using an extended version of the Ophelia approach, and (2) evaluate the organizational impact of the application of the Ophelia approach. We found the approach successful in producing feasible organizational quality improvement interventions that responded to local health literacy needs such as enhanced social support and individualized care. Furthermore, applying the Ophelia approach had a substantial organizational impact. The co-design process in the unit helped develop and integrate a new and holistic understanding of CR user needs and vulnerabilities based on health literacy. It also generated motivation and ownership among CR users, staff, and leaders, paving the way for sustainable future implementation. The findings can be used to inform the development and evaluation of sustainable co-designed health literacy initiatives in other settings. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Field-Testing and Refinement of the Organisational Health Literacy Responsiveness Self-Assessment (Org-HLR) Tool and Process
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(3), 1000; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17031000 - 05 Feb 2020
Cited by 1
Abstract
Health literacy refers to the skills and knowledge that influence a person’s ability to access, understand and use information to make health-related decisions, which are influenced by the complexity of their health needs and the demands health services place on them. The aim [...] Read more.
Health literacy refers to the skills and knowledge that influence a person’s ability to access, understand and use information to make health-related decisions, which are influenced by the complexity of their health needs and the demands health services place on them. The aim of this study was to field-test the Organisational Health Literacy Responsiveness (Org-HLR) tool and process to determine their utility in assessing health literacy responsiveness and for supporting organisations to plan health literacy-related improvement activities. Four organisations in Victoria, Australia, field-tested the Org-HLR tool. Data were collected through direct observation, participant feedback, and focus groups. Forty-three individuals participated in field-testing activities, and 20 took part in focus group meetings. Themes relating to the applicability and utility of the Org-HLR self-assessment tool and process were identified. Field-testing resulted in a number of refinements to the tool and process. Twenty-eight indicators were removed, 29 were rephrased to improve their clarity, and four new indicators were added. The revised Org-HLR self-assessment tool contains six dimensions, 22 sub-dimensions and 110 performance indicators. The Org-HLR tool and process were perceived as useful for assessing health literacy responsiveness, prioritising improvement activities, and establishing a benchmark for monitoring and evaluation of improvements over time. Testing generated an improved Org-HLR tool and assessment process that are likely to have utility across a broad range of health and social service sector organisations. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Multidimensional eHealth Literacy for Infertility
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(3), 966; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17030966 - 04 Feb 2020
Cited by 1
Abstract
Infertility is a major public health issue and increasingly, the internet is used as a source of information and advice. The aim of this study is to understand the eHealth literacy of individuals and couples in relation to infertility. A non-probability sample of [...] Read more.
Infertility is a major public health issue and increasingly, the internet is used as a source of information and advice. The aim of this study is to understand the eHealth literacy of individuals and couples in relation to infertility. A non-probability sample of 27 participants was recruited from existing support groups, online advertising and snowballing representing the diverse population groups for whom involuntary childlessness is an issue. Information online was used both for decision making and developing interactive health literacy for health consultations. Participants may be both consumers and purveyors of information to others in distributed health literacy. Cognitive skills are required to appraise an inconsistent evidence base and potentially biased information from private providers of treatments. Accounts of geographical variations in treatment options, the cost of private treatment and for some, a sense that information and services were directed towards female and heterosexual couples, led some participants to political action online creating an important sense of empowerment. The study offers a new conceptual framework for eHealth literacy in the context of infertility, that combines use of the web and virtual communities in which functional, interactive, critical and distributed health literacy play a part in an online environment. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Health Literacy is Associated with Health Behaviors in Students from Vocational Education and Training Schools: A Danish Population-Based Survey
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(2), 671; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17020671 - 20 Jan 2020
Cited by 2
Abstract
Health literacy has been identified as an important and changeable intermediary determinant of health equity. Vocational education and training (VET) schools are a relevant setting for health behavior interventions seeking to diminish health inequities because many VET students come from low socio-economic status [...] Read more.
Health literacy has been identified as an important and changeable intermediary determinant of health equity. Vocational education and training (VET) schools are a relevant setting for health behavior interventions seeking to diminish health inequities because many VET students come from low socio-economic status backgrounds. This study examines VET students’ health literacy and its association with health behavior based on a cross-sectional survey among 6119 students from 58 VET schools in Denmark in 2019. Two scales from the Health Literacy Questionnaire was used to assess domains of health literacy. Data were analyzed using Anova and logistic regression. The study population consisted of 43.4% female, and mean age was 24.2 years (range 15.8–64.0). The health literacy domain ‘Actively managing my health’ mean was 2.51, SD 0.66, and ‘Appraisal of health information’ mean was 2.37, SD 0.65. For both domains, being female, older age, attending the VET educational program Care-health-pedagogy, and higher self-rated health were associated with higher scale scores. In the adjusted analyses, lower scale scores were associated with less frequent breakfast, daily smoking, high-risk alcohol behavior and moderate-to-low physical activity. Our results show that low health literacy is associated with unhealthy behaviors in this population. Our results support and inform health literacy research and practice in educational institutions and services. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Health Literacy among People in Cardiac Rehabilitation: Associations with Participation and Health-Related Quality of Life in the Heart Skills Study in Denmark
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(2), 443; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17020443 - 09 Jan 2020
Cited by 2
Abstract
Health literacy (HL) is a dynamic determinant of health and a promising target of health equity interventions in noncommunicable disease prevention. Among people referred to a cardiac rehabilitation program, we examined the associations between (1) HL and participation in cardiac rehabilitation and (2) [...] Read more.
Health literacy (HL) is a dynamic determinant of health and a promising target of health equity interventions in noncommunicable disease prevention. Among people referred to a cardiac rehabilitation program, we examined the associations between (1) HL and participation in cardiac rehabilitation and (2) HL and health-related quality of life (HRQoL). Using a cross-sectional design, we invited 193 people referred to cardiac rehabilitation in Randers Municipal Rehabilitation Unit, Denmark, to respond to a questionnaire in 2017. Of these, 150 people responded (77.7%). HL was measured using the nine scales of the Health Literacy Questionnaire (HLQ), while HRQoL was measured using the Short Form Health Survey 12 (version 2) (SF-12). The mean age of respondents was 67.0 years; 71.3% of the sample were men. Nonrespondents had significantly lower educational attainment and more often lived alone than respondents. Using multiple regression analyses, we found no significant associations between HL and participation in cardiac rehabilitation. There were significant positive associations between several aspects of HL and physical and mental HRQoL. HL could be a factor of interest in initiatives aimed at improving participation and outcomes of cardiac rehabilitation. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Effectiveness of a Comprehensive Health Literacy Consultation Skills Training for Undergraduate Medical Students: A Randomized Controlled Trial
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(1), 81; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17010081 - 20 Dec 2019
Cited by 4
Abstract
Comprehensible communication by itself is not sufficient to overcome health literacy related problems. Future doctors need a larger scope of capacities in order to strengthen a patient’s autonomy, participation, and self-management abilities. To date, such comprehensive training-interventions are rarely embedded in curricula, nor [...] Read more.
Comprehensible communication by itself is not sufficient to overcome health literacy related problems. Future doctors need a larger scope of capacities in order to strengthen a patient’s autonomy, participation, and self-management abilities. To date, such comprehensive training-interventions are rarely embedded in curricula, nor systematically evaluated. We assessed whether comprehensive training increased these health literacy competencies, in a randomized controlled trial (RCT), with a waiting list condition. Participants were international undergraduate medical students of a Dutch medical faculty (intervention: 39; control: 40). The 11-h-training-intervention encompassed a health literacy lecture and five interactive small-group sessions to practise gathering information and providing comprehensible information, shared decision-making, and enabling of self-management using role-play and videotaped conversations. We assessed self-reported competencies (knowledge and awareness of health literacy, attitude, self-efficacy, and ability to use patient-centred communication techniques) at baseline, after a five and ten-week follow-up. We compared students’ competencies using multi-level analysis, adjusted for baseline. As validation, we evaluated demonstrated skills in videotaped consultations for a subsample. The group of students who received the training intervention reported significantly greater health literacy competencies, which persisted up to five weeks afterwards. Increase was greatest for providing comprehensible information (B: 1.50; 95% confidence interval, CI 1.15 to 1.84), shared decision-making (B: 1.08; 95% CI 0.60 to 1.55), and self-management (B: 1.21; 95% CI 0.61 to 1.80). Effects regarding demonstrated skills confirmed self-rated competency improvement. This training enhanced a larger scope of health literacy competences and was well received by medical students. Implementation and further evaluation of this training in education and clinical practice can support sustainable health literacy capacity building of future doctors and contribute to better patient empowerment and outcomes of consultations. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
The Impact of the Chronic Disease Self-Management Program on Health Literacy: A Pre-Post Study Using a Multi-Dimensional Health Literacy Instrument
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(1), 58; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17010058 - 19 Dec 2019
Cited by 1
Abstract
This study assessed the impact of the Chronic Disease Self-Management Program (CDSMP) on different domains of health literacy using a pre-post study design. Participants aged over 16 years and with one or more self-reported chronic diseases were recruited for the CDSMP in western [...] Read more.
This study assessed the impact of the Chronic Disease Self-Management Program (CDSMP) on different domains of health literacy using a pre-post study design. Participants aged over 16 years and with one or more self-reported chronic diseases were recruited for the CDSMP in western Sydney (a highly diverse area of New South Wales, Australia) between October 2014 and September 2018. Health literacy was assessed pre- and immediately post-intervention using the Health Literacy Questionnaire (HLQ), with differences in mean scores for each HLQ domain analysed using paired sample t-tests. A total of 486 participants were recruited into the CDSMP. Of those, 316 (65.0%) completed both pre- and post-intervention surveys and were included in the analysis. The median age of the participants was 68 years, the majority were female (62.5%), and most were born in a country other than Australia (80.6%). There were statistically significant (P < 0.001) improvements across all nine domains of the HLQ. This is the first study evaluating the potential impact of the CDSMP on improving different domains of health literacy amongst a diverse sample of participants with chronic diseases using a multi-dimensional instrument. The absence of a control population in this study warrants caution when interpreting the results. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Influence of Health Literacy on the Physical Activity of Working Adults: A Cross-Sectional Analysis of the TRISEARCH Trial
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16(24), 4948; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16244948 - 06 Dec 2019
Cited by 3
Abstract
Studies show that high health literacy (HL) can support the promotion and maintenance of healthy behavior such as physical activity (PA). However, most studies rely on subjective data. The aim of the present study is to investigate the relationship between HL and PA, [...] Read more.
Studies show that high health literacy (HL) can support the promotion and maintenance of healthy behavior such as physical activity (PA). However, most studies rely on subjective data. The aim of the present study is to investigate the relationship between HL and PA, not only with subjectively but also with objectively measured PA data. The present study is a pooled analysis of baseline data from the research association TRISEARCH (2015–2018), which focused on the HL of working adults. HL was measured by Lenartz’ questionnaire, and PA by the Global Physical Activity Questionnaire (GPAQ; n = 1056). A subsample (n = 124) also received accelerometers (Actigraph GT3X+) to provide more objective PA data. Partial correlations and regression models were used to investigate the relationship between HL and questionnaire- and accelerometer-derived PA. Very low and medium partial correlations could be found for HL subscales and daily PA by questionnaire (r = −0.06, p < 0.05) and accelerometer (r = 0.26, p < 0.01). No subscale of HL made a significant contribution to the amount of daily PA (all p > 0.05). Not all subscales of HL seem to have an influence on the occurrence of healthy behavior, such as PA. This should be considered when HL-based interventions are designed. Further investigation of the relationship between HL and PA is needed. Objective assessments of both HL and PA can provide additional information for this task. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
Implementation and Long-Term Outcomes of Organisational Health Literacy Interventions in Ireland and The Netherlands: A Longitudinal Mixed-Methods Study
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16(23), 4812; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16234812 - 29 Nov 2019
Cited by 2
Abstract
Organisational Health Literacy (OHL)-interventions are needed to overcome health inequality. OHL-interventions have successfully identified communication barriers at the organisational level, but evidence is limited on the extent to which this leads to sustainable organisational change. This study aims to assess the implementation fidelity, [...] Read more.
Organisational Health Literacy (OHL)-interventions are needed to overcome health inequality. OHL-interventions have successfully identified communication barriers at the organisational level, but evidence is limited on the extent to which this leads to sustainable organisational change. This study aims to assess the implementation fidelity, moderators (barriers and facilitators), and long-term impact of OHL-interventions in hospitals in Ireland and The Netherlands. We used a longitudinal mixed-methods approach to assess two similar OHL-interventions in one Irish and three Dutch hospitals. The OHL-interventions concerned the improvement of navigation and implementation of health literacy-friendly communication throughout organisations. Participants were 24 hospital employees and 40 older adults who use hospital services. At six, eight, and eighteen months, we assessed the level of implementation, barriers and facilitators, and impact through questionnaires and in-depth semi-structured interviews. After older adults and professionals had identified a number of communication problems, we found that professionals had successfully implemented OHL-interventions to promote navigation and comprehensible communication. Limited resources and variation in organisational structures and procedures were perceived as barriers to implementation. The participation of service users, leadership support, and a stepwise implementation of interventions were perceived to facilitate implementation. In the long term, the OHL-interventions led to system-wide improvements, as shown by better embedding of health literacy policies, enhanced patient engagement, provision of plain language training and comprehensible information. Findings were similar for the two countries. Embedded OHL-interventions resulted in sustainable and system-wide health literacy changes in all four hospitals. Following implementation, OHL-interventions have the potential to promote health equity and empowerment among health service users. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
“I Sometimes Ask Patients to Consider Spiritual Care”: Health Literacy and Culture in Mental Health Nursing Practice
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16(19), 3589; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16193589 - 25 Sep 2019
Cited by 1
Abstract
While health literacy influences better outcomes of mental health patients, sociocultural factors shape the nature of the relationship. On this matter, little is known about how sociocultural factors affect health literacy practices of nurses, especially in low-income countries. This paper examines how local [...] Read more.
While health literacy influences better outcomes of mental health patients, sociocultural factors shape the nature of the relationship. On this matter, little is known about how sociocultural factors affect health literacy practices of nurses, especially in low-income countries. This paper examines how local precepts, within culture and language, shape mental health nurses’ (MHNs) practice and understanding of patients’ health literacy level in Ghana. The study used a qualitative descriptive design involving 43 MHNs from two psychiatric hospitals. Conventional content analysis was used to analyze the data. Although the MHNs acknowledged the importance of health literacy associated with patients’ health outcomes, their practice was strongly attributed to patients’ substantial reliance on cultural practices and beliefs that led to misinterpretation and non- compliance to treatments. MHNs shared similar sociocultural ideas with patients and admitted that these directed their health literacy practice. Additionally, numerous health system barriers influenced the adoption of health literacy screening tools, as well as the MHNs’ low health literacy skills. These findings suggest MHNs’ direct attention to the broader social determinants of health to enhance the understanding of culture and its impact on health literacy practice. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Subjective Health Literacy among School-Aged Children: First Evidence from Lithuania
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16(18), 3397; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16183397 - 13 Sep 2019
Cited by 6
Abstract
Health literacy as a set of competencies to promote and sustain health has received significant research attention, particularly in studies on adults. Improving health literacy at an early age is crucial to personal health and development, so there is a need to investigate [...] Read more.
Health literacy as a set of competencies to promote and sustain health has received significant research attention, particularly in studies on adults. Improving health literacy at an early age is crucial to personal health and development, so there is a need to investigate the health literacy of school-aged children. The aims of this study were to determine the level of subjective health literacy among adolescents in Lithuania and to examine the association between health literacy, school achievement, health education in schools, and family affluence. Health literacy was assessed using a brief Health Literacy for School-Aged Children instrument on a representative sample of 2369 subjects (from the 7th to 10th grades). Overall, 12.1% of all respondents had low, 70.5% moderate, and 17.4% a high level of health literacy. School achievements were found to be a significant predictor of health literacy, as were the number of school-based health promotion events. Family affluence also predicted an increased level of health literacy. This study was the first nationally representative examination of this topic in Lithuania and it highlighted the alarming finding that less than one-fifth of adolescents had high health literacy. Full article
Open AccessArticle
Validation of the Short-Form Health Literacy Questionnaire (HLS-SF12) and Its Determinants among People Living in Rural Areas in Vietnam
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16(18), 3346; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16183346 - 11 Sep 2019
Cited by 3
Abstract
Background: Health literacy (HL) is an important factor in improving health inequalities in poor and marginalized groups. Assessing comprehensive HL is critical. In this study, we validated the use of a comprehensive short-form HL survey tool (HLS-SF12) and examined the determinants of HL [...] Read more.
Background: Health literacy (HL) is an important factor in improving health inequalities in poor and marginalized groups. Assessing comprehensive HL is critical. In this study, we validated the use of a comprehensive short-form HL survey tool (HLS-SF12) and examined the determinants of HL among people in rural areas. Methods: A cross-sectional study was conducted in July 2019 on 440 people residing in mountainous areas in Vietnam. Health literacy was measured using the HLS-SF12. Personal characteristics were also collected. We analyzed data using confirmatory factor analysis, internal consistency analysis, and regression analysis. Results: The questionnaire demonstrated a good construct validity with satisfactory goodness-of-fit indices and item-scale convergent validity. The tool was reliable and homogeneous with Cronbach’s alpha = 0.79, with no floor/ceiling effects. People who were married had lower HL (regression coefficient B = −3.12; 95% confidence interval (CI) = −5.69, −0.56; p = 0.017) compared with those who never married. Higher education attainment (B = 3.41 to 10.44; p < 0.001), a better ability to pay for medication (B = 4.17 to 9.89; p < 0.001), and a tendency to view health-related TV/radio more often (B = 5.23 to 6.15; p < 0.001) were associated with higher HL. Conclusions: The HLS-SF12 is a valid survey tool for the evaluation of HL in rural populations. A number of personal characteristics were strongly associated with HL. Full article
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Open AccessArticle
The Relationship between Functional Health Literacy, Self-Rated Health, and Social Support between Younger and Older Adults in Ghana
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16(17), 3188; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16173188 - 31 Aug 2019
Cited by 3
Abstract
It is well established that health literacy positively affects health outcomes, and social support influences this association. What remains unclear is which aspect of social support (instrumental, informational, and emotional support) is responsible for this effect and whether the influence differs from one [...] Read more.
It is well established that health literacy positively affects health outcomes, and social support influences this association. What remains unclear is which aspect of social support (instrumental, informational, and emotional support) is responsible for this effect and whether the influence differs from one population group to another. This study addresses these lacunae. It examines the impact each type of support makes on the relation between functional health literacy (FHL) and self-rated health status among younger and older adults in Ghana. Data were pooled from two cross-sectional surveys, together comprising 521 participants in the Ashanti Region. The results indicated that young adults were more likely to possess sufficient FHL and perceive their health more positively than older adults. While FHL was positively associated with health status, the relation was stronger when young adults received a high level of emotional support. Among older persons, informational support substantially moderated the association between FHL and health status. Thus, social support modifies the relations between FHL and health status among younger and older adults in different ways and to different degrees. Therefore, interventions to improve FHL and health amongst younger and older adults should pay due regard to relevant aspects of social support. Full article
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Review

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Open AccessReview
The Agreement between Patients’ and Healthcare Professionals’ Assessment of Patients’ Health Literacy—A Systematic Review
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(7), 2372; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17072372 - 31 Mar 2020
Cited by 1
Abstract
Healthcare professionals (HCPs) can play a key role in promoting health literacy (HL) in patients to help them navigate the healthcare system effectively. This involves assisting patients to locate, comprehend and evaluate health information. HCPs should assess patients’ health literacy needs and check [...] Read more.
Healthcare professionals (HCPs) can play a key role in promoting health literacy (HL) in patients to help them navigate the healthcare system effectively. This involves assisting patients to locate, comprehend and evaluate health information. HCPs should assess patients’ health literacy needs and check the patient´s understanding to communicate adequate health information. This review investigates the agreement between the patients’ and HCPs assessment of patients’ HL. A systematic literature search in PubMed, Scopus, PsycINFO, CINAHL and the Cochrane Library was performed in November 2019. The search yielded 6762 citations, seven studies met the inclusion criteria. The following HL measurement instruments were completed by the patients in the included studies: REALM (n = 2), REALM-R (n = 1), S-TOFHLA (n = 1), NVS (n = 1), SILS (n = 1), HLSI-SF (n = 1) and HLS-EU-Q16 (n = 1). The HCPs assessed patients’ HL by answering questions that reflect the content of standardized tools. Six studies reported that a high proportion of patients assigned to have HL needs based on their self-report were overestimated by their HCPs in terms of the HL level. The results demonstrated that HCPs had difficulty determining patients’ HL adequately. Differences between the HL estimation of HCPs and the actual HL skills of patients might lead to communication problems. Full article
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Open AccessReview
International Perspective on Health Literacy and Health Equity: Factors That Influence the Former Soviet Union Immigrants
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(6), 2155; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17062155 - 24 Mar 2020
Cited by 1
Abstract
Among the world’s 272 million international migrants, more than 25 million are from the former Soviet Union (FSU), yet there is a paucity of literature available about FSU immigrants’ health literacy. Besides linguistic and cultural differences, FSU immigrants often come from a distinct [...] Read more.
Among the world’s 272 million international migrants, more than 25 million are from the former Soviet Union (FSU), yet there is a paucity of literature available about FSU immigrants’ health literacy. Besides linguistic and cultural differences, FSU immigrants often come from a distinct healthcare system affecting their ability to find, evaluate, process, and use health information in the host countries. In this scoping review and commentary, we describe the health literacy issues of FSU immigrants and provide an overview of FSU immigrants’ health literacy based on the integrated health literacy model. We purposefully consider the three most common locations where FSU immigrants have settled: the USA, Germany, and Israel. For context, we describe the healthcare systems of the three host countries and the two post-Soviet countries to illustrate the contribution of system-level factors on FSU immigrants’ health literacy. We identify research gaps and set a future research agenda to help understand FSU immigrants’ health literacy across countries. Amidst the ongoing global population changes related to international migration, this article contributes to a broad-scope understanding of health literacy among FSU immigrants related to the system-level factors that may also apply to other immigrants, migrants, and refugees. Full article
Open AccessReview
Educational Interventions to Improve Safety and Health Literacy Among Agricultural Workers: A Systematic Review
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(3), 1114; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17031114 - 10 Feb 2020
Cited by 1
Abstract
Health and safety education for farmers has the potential to increase the level of health, safety literacy, and thereby improve farmers’ health and quality of life. The aim of this paper is to provide a systematic review of the published literature documenting different [...] Read more.
Health and safety education for farmers has the potential to increase the level of health, safety literacy, and thereby improve farmers’ health and quality of life. The aim of this paper is to provide a systematic review of the published literature documenting different educational interventions for agricultural workers that have the improvement of health and/or safety literacy as an outcome. A systematic search was conducted in PubMed, Embase, Scopus and PsycINFO databases for articles focusing on educational interventions for farmers’ health and safety. From the 3357 initial hits, 36 unduplicated records met the inclusion criteria. The articles included in the review used educational interventions for farmers with the purpose of preventing farm-induced diseases and injuries, increasing the health and well-being of farmers, and promoting good manufacturing practices. The educational approaches considered varied from lectures, videos, newsletters, games, and community fairs, to involving the community in designing the intervention and training farmers to deliver the intervention to the community. Interventions that used evidence-based theories, which took into account cultural aspects and individual factors, used biomarkers as a behavior change measurement, and involved the community in the development of the intervention had the best results in terms of behavior change. The strategies of educational interventions identified in this review that produced good results have the potential to inform future researchers and policy makers in the design and implementation of public health interventions, programs and policies to improve the health of farmers and their families. Full article
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Open AccessReview
A Scoping Review on How to Make Hospitals Health Literate Healthcare Organizations
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(3), 1036; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17031036 - 06 Feb 2020
Cited by 3
Abstract
The concept of health literacy is increasingly being recognised as not just an individual trait, but also as a characteristic related to families, communities, and organisations providing health and social services. The aim of this study is to identify and describe, through a [...] Read more.
The concept of health literacy is increasingly being recognised as not just an individual trait, but also as a characteristic related to families, communities, and organisations providing health and social services. The aim of this study is to identify and describe, through a scoping review approach, the characteristics and the interventions that make a hospital a health literate health care organisation (HLHO), in order to develop an integrated conceptual model. We followed Arksey and O’Malley’s five-stage scoping review framework, refined with the Joanna Briggs Institute methodology, to identify the research questions, identify relevant studies, select studies, chart the data, and collate and summarize the data. Of the 1532 titles and abstracts screened, 106 were included. Few studies have explored the effect of environmental support on health professionals, and few outcomes related to staff satisfaction/perception of helpfulness have been reported. The most common types of interventions and outcomes were related to the patients. The logical framework developed can be an effective tool to define and understand priorities and related consequences, thereby helping researchers and policymakers to have a wider vision and a more homogeneous approach to health literacy and its use and promotion in healthcare organizations. Full article
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Other

Open AccessProtocol
Online Survey for the Assessment of Generic Health Literacy among Adolescents in Germany (GeKoJu): Study Protocol
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(5), 1518; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17051518 - 27 Feb 2020
Cited by 1
Abstract
The promotion of health literacy at a young age can protect, maintain and improve health across the life course. Yet to date, a sound data basis on adolescent health literacy as a requirement for the development of strategies to promote health literacy has [...] Read more.
The promotion of health literacy at a young age can protect, maintain and improve health across the life course. Yet to date, a sound data basis on adolescent health literacy as a requirement for the development of strategies to promote health literacy has not been given. This paper presents a study protocol for the online survey “Health Literacy Among Adolescents” (GeKoJu) that collects the first nation-wide representative data on self-reported generic health among adolescents aged 14–17 years in Germany. The objectives of the survey are (1) to assess the distribution of generic health literacy among adolescents in Germany, (2) to identify socio-demographic and social factors in regard to health literacy and (3) to assess the association of health literacy and health-related outcomes. The cross-sectional survey was conducted from September 2019 through December 2019. A two-stage stratified cluster sampling strategy was applied. Individuals invited to participate in the survey (N = 6608) were randomly selected among German-speaking adolescents aged 14–17 years, with permanent residence in Germany. Generic health literacy is measured with the “Measurement of Health Literacy Among Adolescents-Questionnaire” (MOHLAA-Q). Data collection also covers questions on health behavior, subjective health status, personal and social resources, socio-demographic and social factors and health services use. Results of the GeKoJu survey will provide data for the development of strategies to promote generic health literacy among families, in schools, communities and health care. Full article
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Open AccessPerspective
Making a Case for “Education for Health Literacy”: An International Perspective
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(4), 1436; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17041436 - 24 Feb 2020
Cited by 2
Abstract
In many countries, health literacy research, practice, and policy have been moving away from a focus only on medical care and health-care settings to a much broader conceptualization. In this broader perspective, health literacy can be obtained and used across many other settings [...] Read more.
In many countries, health literacy research, practice, and policy have been moving away from a focus only on medical care and health-care settings to a much broader conceptualization. In this broader perspective, health literacy can be obtained and used across many other settings (e.g., school, home, workplaces, government) towards achieving health and wellness goals across the life-course for individuals, families, and communities. The education sector is a critical domain towards these achievements and education for health literacy is a fundamental process and outcome. This can help towards important public health goals, including critical health literacy, as oriented not only towards individual actions, but also towards supporting effective social and political action. This Perspective Article describes the importance and utility of the education for health literacy perspective, which, follows a view that health literacy is a key outcome of health education from which improved population health, health promotion and disease prevention could be achieved across diverse contexts. We first describe different educational paradigms to address health literacy and clarify the education for health literacy perspective as a supportive, instructional and capacity-building global resource across the life-course. Then, using specific examples from Canada, America, and Germany, we provide a snapshot of the diverse ways in which the education for health literacy perspective can be found in national policies. These include broad national goals and standards (Germany and Canada) and major health care reform (America). We next consider the tensions and gaps that can arise in the translation and implementation of these policies relative to the ideal education for health literacy perspective, especially related to equity. These include the need for funding, goals of the educational system, and limited evaluation of policy in practice. Finally, we highlight strategic opportunities to achieve education for health literacy and equity especially offering examples from innovative practice in Canada across the lifespan. Full article
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