Critical health literacy: A review and critical analysis

Florence Nightingale School of Nursing and Midwifery, King's College London, 57 Waterloo Road, London SE1 8AW, UK.
Social Science [?] Medicine (Impact Factor: 2.89). 05/2011; 73(1):60-7. DOI: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2011.04.004
Source: PubMed


Though there has been a considerable expansion of interest in the health literacy concept worldwide, there has also been criticism that this concept has been poorly defined, that it stretches the idea of "literacy" to an indefensible extent and more specifically, that it adds little to the existing concerns and intervention approaches of the better established discipline of health promotion. This paper takes as a starting point the expanded model of health literacy advanced by Nutbeam (2000) and addresses these concerns by interrogating the concept of "critical health literacy" in order to draw conclusions about its utility for advancing the health of individuals and communities. The constituent domains of critical health literacy are identified; namely information appraisal, understanding the social determinants of health, and collective action, and as far as possible each are clearly delineated, with links to related concepts made explicit. The paper concludes that an appreciation of work undertaken in a range of different disciplines, such as media studies, medical sociology, and evidence-based medicine can enhance our understanding of the critical health literacy construct and help us understand its usefulness as a social asset which helps individuals towards a critical engagement with health information. There is some evidence that aspects of critical health literacy have indeed been found to be a resource for better health outcomes, but more research is needed in this area, both to develop quantitative and qualitative approaches to evaluating health literacy skills, and to offer convincing evidence that investment in programmes designed to enhance critical health literacy are worthwhile.

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    • "Evidence has shown that health literacy intervention can have positive effect on health, particularly when combined with each other; further research indicated that health literacy skills declined with age. This is a fact that health literacy intervention is directed at relatively advanced students and requires a considerable investment of formal educational resources (Chinn, 2011). Researcher summarized that doctor, nurse, dentist, pharmacist, or public health workers also need health literacy skills in order to help people to better understand health information and services (King, 2010) . "
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    ABSTRACT: Health literacy is one of the most critical issues threating the public health today and there are significant gaps behind the discipline of health literacy. Low health literacy was found to threaten the health and welfare of people. The past decades witnessed a revolutionary alteration in the health patterns and disease spread among the community from infectious diseases to chronic diseases such as, heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes and accidents. Furthermore, to enhance health status among the population with effective intervention methods, through health teaching, increasing access to health information and communication technologies will eliminate the health literacy consequences among different community levels, including children and adults. The aim of the present review was to find out the current status about research progress towards health literacy. Furthermore, to examine health literacy status, intervention, possible consequences and future prospective, and to find out the options for improving health literacy status and fill in the future research. A systematic review based on literature research related to health literacy covered the recent publication from 2000 to 2014 years. The results indicated that the wide range opportunities for improving health literacy are coming through health literacy intervention among target community. Future research concerning health literacy is still needed to give much more efforts in the field of community and community health works.
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    • "). A tenfold increase in the number of journal articles about health literacy has been published between 1997 and 2007 (Bankson, 2009; Chinn, 2011 "
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    ABSTRACT: Many older adults struggle to manage their health care problems. Low health literacy exacerbates such struggles and contributes to a variety of adverse health behaviors and outcomes. Addressing how health literacy impinges on the lives of older adults is a neglected area of social work practice and knowledge. This article explores seven areas: defining health literacy, the problem and prevalence of low health literacy among older adults, health inequalities and health literacy, a brief literature review, neglected issues in the literature, suggestions for macro and micro social work interventions to improve health literacy for older adult populations, and conclusion.
    Social Work in Health Care 01/2015; 54(1):65-81. DOI:10.1080/00981389.2014.966882 · 0.62 Impact Factor
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    • "At the most empowered level, critical health literacy includes empowerment, social action and the recognition that multiple factors in addition to choice, such as the environment and the economy, can impact personal health [17]. Similarly, Chinn theorizes that critical health literacy includes the building of capacity and social action for individuals and communities [2]. More recently, Nutbeam has reconsidered critical health literacy as a set of literacies or social practices within different contexts rather than a singular literacy [18]. "
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    ABSTRACT: Knowledge mobilization projects attempt to make theory and research available in order to inform policy and practice. This paper describes a knowledge mobilization project at a Canadian university. A database of Canadian health curriculum policies was analyzed to discern the general approaches to body image across the country. The findings show that learning how to cultivate a positive body image is inconsistently addressed across the education policies of the thirteen provinces and territories. Secondly, many Canadian curriculum policy documents have missed opportunities to teach acceptance of diverse body types and other protective factors. Third, health is more strongly associated with fitness in policies than with more holistic approaches. A knowledge mobilization website project was established to encourage more critical understandings of healthy self-esteem and body image. The website contains summaries of current research pertaining to body image, child and adolescent development, and key messages about body-positive health. The online and open source material available includes age-appropriate lessons for teachers and parents. These materials have been designed to translate research into activities, lessons, and key messages that promote healthy body image and self-esteem.
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