Monthly Archives: August 2013

FREE WEBINAR – Public Health Principles & Health Literacy: Developing a Health Literacy Curriculum for Cancer Care Providers

Friday, September 13, 2013 12:00 PM – 1:00 PM CDT


Presenter: Julie Halverson, MS, MA, Assistant Researcher
School of Medicine and Public Health, University of Wisconsin Comprehensive Cancer Center


  • Identify health literacy needs and barriers in a rural cancer care setting
  • Identify public health principles and health literacy components used to develop a health literacy curriculum for cancer care providers
  • Discuss methods of implementing a health literacy curriculum in a clinical setting

Health literacy… across three health domains

According to Sørensen et al. (2012), “Health literacy is in our understanding … for improving people’s empowerment within the domains of healthcare, disease prevention and health promotion.”

“Health literacy … influences health behavior and the use of health services, and thereby will also impact on health outcomes and on the health costs in society. At an individual level, ineffective communication due to poor health literacy will result in errors, poor quality, and risks to patient safety of the healthcare services. At a population level, health literate persons are able to participate in the ongoing public and private dialogues about health, medicine, scientific knowledge and cultural beliefs. Thus, the benefits of health literacy impact the full range of life’s activities–home, work, society and culture. Advancing health literacy will progressively allow for greater autonomy and personal empowerment, and the process of health literacy can be seen as a part of an individual’s development towards improved quality of life. In the population, it may also lead to more equity and sustainability of changes in public health” (Sørensen et al., 2012).

Good stuff, right? To read the full article, click the link in the reference below.


Sørensen, K., Van den Broucke, S., Fullam, J., Doyle, G., Pelikan, J., Slonska, Z., & Brand, H. (2012). Health literacy and public health: a systematic review and integration of definitions and models. BMC Public Health, 12(80). doi:10.1186/1471-2458-12-80. Retrieved from

A health literacy commercial?

Every time I see this commercial I think of health literacy and how health information is often written well above the 10th grade reading level while most adults read at the 8th grade level or below.  Click to view the Tricalm commercial on YouTube.

The power of literacy!

“As mothers learn to read, more children survive.”

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) manages the Asia-Pacific Literacy database (, and I recently used some of their data in a presentation on literacy and health.

I thought this graph was particularly powerful. It shows that in countries where women have more opportunities to learn to read and write, infant mortality rates decrease. Or as Don Nutbeam (a world-renowned expert in public health and health literacy) describes it, “As mothers learn to read, more children survive.”

Can you think of a more powerful connection between literacy and health?

List of country codes

Afghanistan  AFG

Bangladesh   BGD

Bhutan   BTN

Cambodia   KHM

China   CHN

India   IND

Indonesia   IDN

Iran    IRN

Lao  LAO

Malaysia  MYS

Maldives  MDV

Mongolia  MNG

Myanmar  MMR

Nepal  NPL

Pakistan  PAK

Papua NG  PNG

Philippines  PHL

Sri Lanka  LKA

Thailand  THA

Viet Nam  VNM

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.

Health Literacy: A global perspective

In July 2013, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) released Health Literacy: Improving Health, Health Systems, and Health Policy Around the World.

The IOM Roundtable on Health Literacy hosted a workshop last September that focused on international health literacy efforts. The workshop featured presentations and discussions about health literacy interventions from various countries as well as other topics related to international health literacy. This document summarizes the workshop.

Download or read a free copy of the report online at