According to Parker and colleagues (2003), a silent epidemic affects the health status of most of the American population, that is to say inadequate health literacy. The same is true in European Countries, where - on average - a third of the population is not able to fully understand, appraise and apply health information as well as to appropriately navigate the health care system (HLS-EU Consortium, 2012). Until today, the attention has been mainly focused on the individual determinants of low health literacy, while studies concerning the health literacy environment (Rudd & Anderson, 2006) and the organizational health literacy (Weaver, et al., 2012) are uncommon. This paper aims at contributing to fill this gap through an explorative research about the tools health care organizations adopt to improve their hosts’ health literacy. Drawing from the international literature (Brach et al., 2012; DeWalt et al.,2010; Murphy-Knoll, 2007; Stableford & Mettger, 2007; Matthew & Sewell, 2002) the main approaches to improve organizational health literacy are outlined. Then, a distinction between formal and informal tools to address organizational health literacy needs is suggested and the effectiveness of both of them is compared. The findings of the research suggest that the latter are more common than the former, although they have lower perceived effectiveness compared with formal methods. Health care organizations seem to be still far from effectively activating comprehensive health literacy pathways. Systemic efforts to acquire awareness of the issue and to put in place effective processes of change towards health literacy are strongly needed.

The Importance of Being Health Literate: An Organizational Health Literacy Approach

PALUMBO, ROCCO;ANNARUMMA, Carmela
2014

Abstract

According to Parker and colleagues (2003), a silent epidemic affects the health status of most of the American population, that is to say inadequate health literacy. The same is true in European Countries, where - on average - a third of the population is not able to fully understand, appraise and apply health information as well as to appropriately navigate the health care system (HLS-EU Consortium, 2012). Until today, the attention has been mainly focused on the individual determinants of low health literacy, while studies concerning the health literacy environment (Rudd & Anderson, 2006) and the organizational health literacy (Weaver, et al., 2012) are uncommon. This paper aims at contributing to fill this gap through an explorative research about the tools health care organizations adopt to improve their hosts’ health literacy. Drawing from the international literature (Brach et al., 2012; DeWalt et al.,2010; Murphy-Knoll, 2007; Stableford & Mettger, 2007; Matthew & Sewell, 2002) the main approaches to improve organizational health literacy are outlined. Then, a distinction between formal and informal tools to address organizational health literacy needs is suggested and the effectiveness of both of them is compared. The findings of the research suggest that the latter are more common than the former, although they have lower perceived effectiveness compared with formal methods. Health care organizations seem to be still far from effectively activating comprehensive health literacy pathways. Systemic efforts to acquire awareness of the issue and to put in place effective processes of change towards health literacy are strongly needed.
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/11386/4526696
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