Challenges and opportunities in building critical health literacy

Journal article


Sykes, SM and Wills, JD (2018). Challenges and opportunities in building critical health literacy. Global Health Promotion.
AuthorsSykes, SM and Wills, JD
Abstract

Background Critical health literacy is the least explored domain of health literacy and is addressed by few projects seeking to build health literacy. Lack of research means there is little evidence upon which to design effective interventions. Yet critical health literacy offers potential for individuals and communities to make important contributions to their own and society’s health. This paper reports on an evaluation of a community project designed to develop critical health literacy. Method The evaluation explored; a) processes used to build critical health literacy and b) the impact on the critical health literacy of participants. A mixed methods approach was used combining a pre-and post-intervention assessment of 14 of the 24 participants using the All Aspects of Health Literacy Scale, with participant focus groups and facilitator interviews. Results Strategies were used to build critical health literacy included; informal and participatory learning, supported and independent assessment of the problem, appraising information, familiarisation of health systems and services, and social support. Common to these was learning within the context of participants’ lives. Fewer strategies encouraged empowerment and political action. The evaluation showed slight improvements in some critical health literacy competencies; the ability to critically appraise health information and apply it to the context of their own lives, and being able to critically question health professionals based on an individual’s own research. However, there was no change in participants’ ability to understand the determinants of health or involvement in activities for social and political change. Conclusion. Informal, participatory community projects can successfully build many characteristics of critical health literacy. However, the political action element of critical health literacy remains the least well understood and faces particular challenges in its implementation.

Keywordscritical health literacy; critical pedagogy; health literacy; evaluation; 1117 Public Health And Health Services
Year2018
JournalGlobal Health Promotion
PublisherSAGE Publications
ISSN1757-9767
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)doi:10.1177/1757975918789352
Publication dates
Print14 Nov 2018
Publication process dates
Deposited26 Jun 2018
Accepted04 Jun 2018
Accepted author manuscript
License
CC BY 4.0
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https://openresearch.lsbu.ac.uk/item/868vv

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