Background Just as the literacy component of health literacy is much more than reading and writing, health is more than medicine and medical care. Health literacy is a concern for everyone, not only cultural or linguistic minorities or those with poor reading and writing skills.

Objectives Introduce the field of health literacy to the PCST community. Introduce a conceptual framework of health literacy.

Methods This work hopes to help advance the rapidly evolving field of health literacy through a critique and review of existing definitions, empirical understandings, and theories of health literacy.

Results This work produces a conceptual framework synthesizing existing approaches to health literacy. Conclusions Future research can employ this framework in building a new, comprehensive, valid, and reliable measure of health literacy useful for outcomes research and needs assessments.

Additionally, this framework might serve as a guide to evaluating public health interventions and creating new medical curricula to improve the health literacy skills of health professionals. Health literacy should be recognized as an important social determinant of health, a required component of medical and public health education through accreditation standards, a reimbursable indicator of quality care by physicians and health care facilities, and a primary tool to reach desired public health outcomes such as the UN Millennium Development Goals.

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Public Communication of Science and Technology

 

Advancing health literacy
An applied approach to making meaning

Andrew Pleasant   Rutgers University

Background Just as the literacy component of health literacy is much more than reading and writing, health is more than medicine and medical care. Health literacy is a concern for everyone, not only cultural or linguistic minorities or those with poor reading and writing skills.

Objectives Introduce the field of health literacy to the PCST community. Introduce a conceptual framework of health literacy.

Methods This work hopes to help advance the rapidly evolving field of health literacy through a critique and review of existing definitions, empirical understandings, and theories of health literacy.

Results This work produces a conceptual framework synthesizing existing approaches to health literacy. Conclusions Future research can employ this framework in building a new, comprehensive, valid, and reliable measure of health literacy useful for outcomes research and needs assessments.

Additionally, this framework might serve as a guide to evaluating public health interventions and creating new medical curricula to improve the health literacy skills of health professionals. Health literacy should be recognized as an important social determinant of health, a required component of medical and public health education through accreditation standards, a reimbursable indicator of quality care by physicians and health care facilities, and a primary tool to reach desired public health outcomes such as the UN Millennium Development Goals.

A copy of the full paper has not yet been submitted.

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