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Special Issue "Improving Public Health with Health Literacy"

A special issue of International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health (ISSN 1660-4601). This special issue belongs to the section "Global Health".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 August 2021).

Special Issue Editors

Prof. Dr. Nooshin Peyman
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Health Education and Health Promotion, Faculty of Health, Mashhad University of Medical Sciences, 13131–99137 Mashhad, Iran
Interests: health literacy; Health education and promotion; primary care
Dr. Hassan Doosti
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Mathematics and Statistics, Macquarie University, Sydney 2109, Australia
Interests: statistics in medicine
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Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Health literacy is always present, but too often is neglected. Overall, while a growing body of evidence strongly suggests that health literacy can be effective in public health when explicitly addressed, the concept and associated best practices of health literacy do not seem to be consistently or universally used within public health organizations. As a result, the effectiveness of public health efforts is reduced, and as a result public health suffers. Successfully integrating the best practices and knowledge of health literacy into public health practice is likely the most significant opportunity that currently exists to improve individual, community, and public health. The overall body of evidence regarding health literacy has clearly advanced to the point where it is logically impossible to conceive of a situation wherein health literacy is not at least a partial determinant of public health status. More likely, as more and stronger evidence is clearly warranted, health literacy is among the strongest determinants of public health in the human population. The tools for public health efforts are traditionally limited to regulation, technology development, education, and persuasion. As discussed in recent studies, health literacy works to shift the emphasis from education and persuasion to technology and regulation. That is not to diminish the role of the former, but to highlight the focus of health literacy. More importantly, health literacy may well be the best argument for the addition of engagement and/or empowerment as a core element of public health.

While the potential usefulness of health literacy for public health seems somewhat straightforward, what is not known is the extent to which, and how, public health organizations conceive of and operationalize health literacy, organize and train staff to address health literacy within their mission, and approach the development of materials with health literacy in mind. It is also unclear which personal characteristics, psychometric properties, and limitations affect health litracy intervention as well as the pathways that link patients to their health care providers and health outcomes. Therefore, we aim to focus on the use—and the lack of use—of health literacy through efforts to address public health in different communities. In particular, with main focus will be on efforts within state, local, tribal, and territorial public health organizations. Given the importance of health literacy for public health, it would be prudent to examine, for the first time, what is being done to evaluate health literacy in different communities.

Prof. Dr. Nooshin Peyman
Dr. Hassan Doosti
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2300 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Published Papers (2 papers)

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Research

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Article
Health Literacy Levels among Italian Students: Monitoring and Promotion at School
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(19), 9943; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/ijerph18199943 (registering DOI) - 22 Sep 2021
Abstract
Health literacy was identified as an important determinant of health, particularly for adolescents. However, more efforts are needed to monitor this construct and provide inputs for policy development. This study aims to: (a) Assess the validity and reliability of the Italian version of [...] Read more.
Health literacy was identified as an important determinant of health, particularly for adolescents. However, more efforts are needed to monitor this construct and provide inputs for policy development. This study aims to: (a) Assess the validity and reliability of the Italian version of the Health Literacy for School-Aged Children (HLSAC-I); (b) Identify the health literacy levels among Italian students and compare them with other countries’ levels; and (c) Identify the associations between health literacy and multiple social determinants (social stratifiers, family, and school connectedness). Data came from the Health Behaviour School-Aged Children survey, carried out in the Lombardy region in northern Italy in 2018. A representative sample of 2,287 13- and 15-year-old Lombardian students was involved. The results support the validity and reliability of the HLSAC-I. A total of 18.7% of the sample reported low levels, and only 6.8% reported high levels. Italian students reported the lowest levels of health literacy compared with other countries. School connectedness and educational approach are the most relevant associated factors. This study confirms a school’s role in reducing inequalities and promoting health. It highlights the importance of monitoring health literacy and implementing health promotion policies at school through a whole-school approach. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Improving Public Health with Health Literacy)
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Review

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Review
The Health Literacy Status and Its Role in Interventions in Iran: A Systematic and Meta-Analysis
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(8), 4260; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/ijerph18084260 - 17 Apr 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 832
Abstract
There are increasing calls for public health policies to realize the visions of a health literate society and health literacy on a global scale. However, there are still more gaps in what researchers recognize and what steps they should take to improve health [...] Read more.
There are increasing calls for public health policies to realize the visions of a health literate society and health literacy on a global scale. However, there are still more gaps in what researchers recognize and what steps they should take to improve health literacy (HL) skills. This review aimed to measure the HL status of the Iranian population and the effect size of the underlying association between HL and other health outcomes, and to examine the effectiveness of HL interventions on improving the functional dimension of HL, self-efficacy, and health-promoting behaviors. All full text published articles written in English and Persian language were included from inception until January 2019, but the type of study is not limited. A total of 52 potentially relevant articles with data on 36,523 participants were included in this review. In the population with health conditions, the average HL score was 62.51 (95% CI: 59.95–65.08), while in the patient population, the HL score was 64.04 (95% CI: 60.64–67.45). Health literacy was positively and significantly correlated with self-care behaviors 0.42 (95% CI; 0.35–0.49), self-efficacy 0.35 (95% CI; 0.26–0.43), knowledge 0.50 (95% CI; 0.44–0.55), communication skills 0.33 (95% CI; 0.25–0.41), and health promotion behaviors 0.39 (95% CI; 0.35–0.44). The meta-analyses showed that overall, HL interventions significantly improved HL status, self-efficacy, and health promotion behaviors. Results indicate that HL status was in the range of marginal HL level in the Iranian population. Our finding highlights the beneficial impact of HL intervention on health-promoting behaviors and self-efficacy, particularly in low literacy/socioeconomic status people. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Improving Public Health with Health Literacy)
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