Evaluating and Measuring Health Literacy Follow Up - Health Literacy Discussion List


This discussion will be a follow-up to last year’s discussion on Evaluating and Measuring Health Literacy.
(See http://lincs.ed.gov/lincs/discussions/healthliteracy/10Measures)

In the previous discussion we explored the existing screeners and measures of health literacy and discussed their uses and limitations. Several themes emerged, each of which were discussed in some detail. These themes included: the conceptual framework of health literacy and how it should anchor any new tools; the purposes of measuring health literacy; who we are measuring: individuals only or also providers and systems; the differences between literacy and health literacy; and how to capture various social and contextual variables that affect health literacy.

We also discussed the elements that a rigorous measure of health literacy should include, and what kinds of conceptual work and testing are needed to in order to ultimately create and validate such a measure.

Since the discussion, several things have happened to move this process along and take the ideas to a wider audience. Andrew has presented a review of the discussion at a few conferences, and he and Julie McKinney wrote an article in Nursing Outlook about the discussion and what came from it. (See below in preparation reading.) Also, a small workgroup was formed, initiated by list member RV Rikard. The workgroup met by phone and through email several times and discussed how to move forward from the consensus reached through the discussion. That group helped to explore what questions to address in this current discussion.

In this discussion, we hope to take this process further, gauge the consensus on more specifics of a new measurement tool, and agree on a course of action to develop and test it. We will look at the consensus numbers from last year’s survey, and discuss the following questions:

Discussion Questions:

  1. Can health literacy be measured with the same tool across disease types, populations and issue areas?
    1. What are the challenges?
    2. What are the potential benefits?
  2. What does a public health approach mean for health literacy measurement?
  3. What does a behavior change theory approach mean for health literacy measurement?
  4. Can the same theory of health literacy be used to support a measure in health professionals AND in the public?
  5. How would the tools differ for measuring competency of health professionals vs. those for measuring competency of the public?
  6. How would you go about determining, via measurement, if health literacy has s a stronger influence on prevention or treatment?

Guest Speaker: Andrew Pleasant

Andrew Pleasant is the director of health literacy and research at Canyon Ranch Institute. See Andrew’s bio here: http://www.canyonranchinstitute.org/about/leadership/team/apleasant/

Preparation Reading

Coming to Consensus on Health Literacy Measurement: An Online Discussion and Consensus-Gauging Process

Nursing Outlook, volume 59, 2011

This article, by Andrew Pleasant and Julie McKinney describes the process and results of last year’s discussion on evaluating and measuring health literacy. It explains how the online discussion worked as a consensus-gauging process in order to determine the needs of the field for a new measurement tool. The article includes the results of a survey given during the discussion, and discusses the level of consensus in the field on the conceptual framework of health literacy that should be used to underpin the new tool, and features of a tool that are considered.

Transcript from last year's discussion: http://lincs.ed.gov/lincs/discussions/healthliteracy/10Measures_summary

Institute of Medicine(IOM) Workshop Summary Report: http://www.iom.edu/Reports/2009/Measures-of-Health-Literacy.aspx

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