Health Literacy Check List

Basic steps in Health Literacy – and how to improve them

The previous page covers the basic logic of health literacy – here are five check points for you to consider and possibly revise:

  • Can the target group easily access or obtain the information?
    Can providers easily distribute the information to relevant target groups?
  • Can the target group understand the information?
    Have providers made the information easily understandable?
  • Can the target group judge if this is relevant to them?
    Have providers made different choices and scenarios available for people to choose from to ensure it fits their needs and fulfill informed consent if applicable?
  • Can the target group easily make a decision and apply the information to treat a disease and promote their health?
    Have providers equipped people with enough information to ensure they can use the information made available for further action?
  • Access and obtaining information
    When developing information on self-care it is important to ensure that it is easy accessible for people to find or get.

    It can be digital information on the Internet. Websites with online information should be easy to track and easy to navigate. Essential health information can be combined with patient stories, illustrations, photos, videos and other means of communication to ensure that all people will benefit from the messaging. Appointments at health services can be made available through web-based self service or phone service with office hours.

    It can be written information with leaflets on self-care at the general practitioner, the pharmacists and at other health professionals or at for example the library or in community centers.

    It can be information using media and social media informing people and directing them towards sources of information with more in-depth details building knowledge and skills on self-care.

    When designing information that is easily accessible for people, it should be easy to find and to navigate.

    Understanding information
    Have you tried asking members of the target group to read/see and explain information provided by you? Consider asking a numbers of individuals to read, and possibly explain, the information you provide to a third party. Did the message get across?

    To increase understanding you can work with the choice of words, length of sentences, and different choices of style. Plain language can be tested to enhance the understandability of the information. You can also choose to inform orally, by video, by webinars (streamed or recorded), by recording another members of the target group interviewing you, by pod cast, by segmenting further, or perhaps by looking to spouses or next of kin as an alternate target group.

    Consider whether translations are necessary for people who are not fluent in the provided languages of the information.

    Is the information design cultural sensitive? Is it appropriate for all people when taking into account gender, age, sexual preference, ethnicity and religion?

    Appraising and judging information
    When providing information on self-care it is important to make sure that the target group finds the information timely and relevant to be used by them. Personalized approaches with choices that match the needs of the target group can help enhance the impact of the information provided. Health literacy is content and context specific. Self-care may need to be framed differently depending who is the target group. For example self-care fore parents with children may need one type of communication, whereas elderly would need another type of communication. Self-care solutions need to be developed that can match the different needs.

    Furthermore, information needs to be reliable for people to use for self-care. It can be evidence-based information and information from trustworthy sources and people should be able to judge how the information matters to them.

    Application and usability of information
    The communication strategy on self-care should ensure that the information provided is useful and meaningful for the target group. How does the people for whom it is intended receive it? How can people take action based on the information? How are the people supported in taking actions? Are there any follow up mechanisms?

    A note to call a certain telephone number may not always be enough. Often people with limited health literacy face other challenges that complicate their lives and opportunities, which makes it difficult for them to follow up on information they are provided.

    Interactive and personalized strategies can enhance the outcome of the communication on self-care. Engaged health professionals who understands how health literacy play a role for health outcomes can help target groups to move from self-care awareness to empowered people with skills and competency to manage their own health through self-care.