Making health easier: Reducing inequalities in child health through addressing low health literacy

Author: Adams, Judith

Date: 2018

Type: Conference item

Link to this item using this URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10523/8708

University of Otago

Abstract

Background: Low health literacy is a major contributor to disparities in child health outcomes between different population groups and a powerful mediator of the social determinants of health. This review aimed to identify effective interventions for improving health literacy at the levels of the individual, the population and the health system, and offer some suggestions on ways to make it easier for people to navigate the health system and manage their own and their children’s health. Methods: A rapid review to examine the evidence regarding the effectiveness of interventions to improve health literacy, and to mitigate the effects of low health literacy. The publications reviewed included systematic reviews, reviews of reviews, commissioned evidence syntheses, and guidelines produced by government agencies and professional bodies in high-income English-speaking countries. Results: The evidence regarding the effectiveness of interventions for individuals with low health literacy comes from studies of interventions for patients in clinical settings with specific health conditions such as asthma or diabetes. There is considerable variation between studies in interventions and outcome measures but it is possible to identify some intervention characteristics associated with improvements in patients’ knowledge, understanding, health behaviours and health outcomes. Information technology interventions are promising but further evaluation is needed. There is scant research on health literacy interventions for populations probably because of a lack of consensus on what population heath literacy is and how to measure it. There are many ways health services can reduce health literacy barriers. Future research on health system interventions should measure health outcomes according to participants’ health literacy levels to assess whether interventions reduce health disparities. Conclusions: We need to make it easier for people to manage their children’s health. Partnering with healthcare consumers is essential for understanding the patient perspective and making health services more user friendly.

Citation: ["Adams, J. (2018). Making health easier: Reducing inequalities in child health through addressing low health literacy. Presented at the Paediatric Society of New Zealand 70th Annual Scientific Meeting 2018."]

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