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Literacy, health education, health literacy and health outcomes – How do they fit? Don Nutbeam University of Sydney.

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Presentation on theme: "Literacy, health education, health literacy and health outcomes – How do they fit? Don Nutbeam University of Sydney."— Presentation transcript:

1 Literacy, health education, health literacy and health outcomes – How do they fit? Don Nutbeam University of Sydney

2 What is literacy? What is it? Functional literacy is a measure of a persons ability to read basic text and write a simple statement relevant to everyday life Why do we care? Those who are functionally literate are able to participate more fully in society, and are able to exert a higher degree of control over everyday events Literacy levels are related to public health outcomes

3 "More than two-thirds of the world's adult illiterates live in Asia and the Pacific Region" Distribution of Global Adult Illiterate Population (15 and over) by Region, (Total Number of Adult Illiterate Population: 775 millions)

4 Distribution of adult illiterate population (15 and over) by sub-region and gender, (Total Number of Adult Illiterate Population: 775 millions) Rates of illiteracy are higher in S&W Asia, especially in India, Bangladesh and Pakistan Women continue to constitute the majority of the illiterate. Source: Asia-Pacific Literacy database -

5 As Female Literacy Rates Climb, Total Fertility Rate Drops NB. Total fertility rate is the number of children that would be born per woman if she were to live to the end of her child-bearing years and bear children at each age in accordance with prevailing age specific fertility rates. Source: Asia-Pacific Literacy database - List of country codes AfghanistanAFG Bangladesh BGD Bhutan BTN Cambodia KHM China CHN India IND Indonesia IDN Iran IRN LaoLAO MalaysiaMYS MaldivesMDV MongoliaMNG MyanmarMMR NepalNPL PakistanPAK Papua NGPNG PhilippinesPHL Sri LankaLKA ThailandTHA Viet NamVNM

6 As Mothers Learn to Read, More Children Survive NB. Under-5 mortality rate is probability of dying between birth and exactly five years of age expressed per 1,000 live births. Source: Asia-Pacific Literacy database - List of country codes AfghanistanAFG Bangladesh BGD Bhutan BTN Cambodia KHM China CHN India IND Indonesia IDN Iran IRN LaoLAO MalaysiaMYS MaldivesMDV MongoliaMNG MyanmarMMR NepalNPL PakistanPAK Papua NGPNG PhilippinesPHL Sri LankaLKA ThailandTHA Viet NamVNM

7 Literate People Tend to Live Longer Life expectancy at birth is the number of years newborn children would live if subject to the mortality risks prevailing for the cross-section of population at the time of their births Source: Asia-Pacific Literacy database -

8 Commission on Social Determinants of Health Education and the life- course Removing the numerous barriers to achievement of primary education will be a crucial part of action on the social determinants of health Literacy has central role in health equity in countries rich and poor rces/interim_statement/en/index.html

9 Literacy and health Relationship between low literacy and a range of health related outcomes well established Some indirect effects –Employment –Income Some direct effects –Engaging in preventive health practices –Early detection of disease –Access to health care –Management of chronic disease Key messages: Literacy is a public health goal Achieving the MDGs in relation to literacy will have major public health benefits Dewalt DA et al Literacy and health outcomes: a systematic review of the literature. Journal of General Internal Medicine,

10 A brief history of health education (1) A central component of efforts to promote health an prevent disease throughout this century Evolved from health propaganda campaigns focused on eradication of infectious disease into healthy lifestyle programs Found to be most effective in reaching and influencing the most literate, best educated and economically advantaged in the community

11 Contemporary health education – how to maximise impact on health outcomes New generation of health education focussed on the social context of health decision-making, the development of personal skills and capabilities Informed by evolving psycho-social theory Supported by more sophisticated understanding of media, and adaptation of social marketing techniques to health campaigns Greater understanding of the need to contextualise communication, making it relevant to defined target populations, and needs of low literacy populations Well documented successes in improving knowledge and health related skills, and in changing health behaviours relevant to the MDGs, for example in relation to smoking, food choices, physical activity and sexual practices

12 The emergence of the concept of health literacy Literacy is context and content specific – more accurate to talk about literacies for example: –financial literacy, –consumer literacy, –IT literacy and, –health literacy Even where a person has advanced literacy skills their ability to obtain, understand and apply information about health may be poor – hence findings indicating high prevalence of poor health literacy from US, Australian and Canadian studies.

13 What is health literacy? Health literacy represents 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 Health literacy means more than being able to read pamphlets and make appointments. By improving peoples access to health information and their capacity to use it effectively, health literacy is critical to empowerment *Nutbeam D. Health Promotion Glossary. Health Promotion International, 13(4): (also - WHO/HPR/HEP/98.1)

14 Health literacy – public health origins in Australia

15 Australias health literacy goals 1993 To achieve the goals of the Australian Language and Literacy Policy To enhance knowledge and improve health literacy to enable people to make informed choices about their health To enhance knowledge and improve health literacy to enable people to take an active role in bringing about changes in the environments that shape their health Nutbeam D, Wise M, Bauman A et al on Health Literacy in Goals and Targets for Australias Health, Canberra, AGPS 1993

16 Improved Health Literacy Health education – directed to knowledge improvement and compliance with pre-determined actions Improved health outcomes, healthy choices and opportunities Established population literacy – reading fluency, numeracy, existing knowledge Developed knowledge and capability Developing functional health literacy – a simple linear model Changed health behaviours and practices

17 Improved Health Literacy Health education directed to knowledge and personal skills development to promote active engagement in health decision-making Improved health outcomes, healthy choices and opportunities Skills in negotiation and self management Established population literacy – reading fluency, numeracy, existing knowledge Developed knowledge and capability Skills in social organization and advocacy Developing interactive health literacy skills Changed health behaviours and practices

18 Improved Health Literacy Health education directed to knowledge and personal skills development to promote active engagement in health decision-making Improved health outcomes, healthy choices and opportunities Skills in negotiation and self management Established population literacy – reading fluency, numeracy, existing knowledge Developed knowledge and capability Skills in social organization and advocacy Participation in changing social norms and service practices Engagement in social action/advocacy for health Developing interactive and critical health literacy skills Changed health behaviours and practices

19 How would this look in practice? Schools and health literacy – strong and consistent evidence exists for: providing a comprehensive and integrated health education program for students, based on: –Content that includes both basic personal health information, and exposure to the influence of social, economic conditions, and the role of the media –Teaching and communication methods based on well researched psycho-social theory and effective classroom interaction –Outcomes focus on enhanced health literacy through improved knowledge and development of personal and social skills

20 Schools and health promotion Efforts to promote health literacy will be greatly enhanced by: Adopting organisational practices which complement and support the teaching program Offering a supportive social environment for students Fostering links with health resources in the community, including optimal use of school health services creating a safe an secure physical environment

21 Summary remarks – What is the state of the science Good research in health care settings linking poor health- related literacy with range of clinical outcomes Some intervention trials in health care settings demonstrate potential effectiveness and cost savings Good research on the efficacy of modern health education in schools and other settings, but less developed research on the intermediate concept of health literacy in these settings (eg adult education, E-learning) Progress in development of measures of health-related literacy in clinical settings, but limited progress in development of comprehensive measures

22 Summary remarks – where to from here in practice development Health literacy fundamentally dependent upon levels of basic literacy in the population – essential to make policy and practical program links between these MDGs, Developing self confidence to act on knowledge and the ability to support others requires more personal, and community-based educational outreach – incorporation of adult learning principles and health promotion concepts Promoting greater critical health literacy and well informed independent decision-making requires recognition of social and environmental context to decision-making, enabling individuals to address structural barriers to health

23 Summary remarks – What needs to be done first? Develop programs that are context and content specific in priority areas in relation to MDGs: Improving capability to obtain, understand and apply relevant information through –Maternal and child health programs –School Health programs –Cross-sectoral collaboration on adult literacy programs

24 Skilled for Health (UK) Skilled for health Integrates goals of health improvement with improving literacy, language and numeracy (LLN) skills of adults Cross government- voluntary sector initiative combines adult LLN learning with peoples wish for a better understanding of health dedlearning/


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