Developing health literacy skills through the use of community based surveys and multimedia productions

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Research and Development in Higher Education: Higher Education in a Globalized World Vol. 37

July, 2014, 352 pages
Published by
A. Kwan, E. Wong, T. Kwong, P. Lau & A. Goody

Less than half of all adults in developed countries possess adequate health literacy. As such,, it is imperative that new health professionals possess the skills to effectively communicate health messages to individuals who have varying levels of health literacy. This paper describes the design and implementation of a scaffolded module aimed at promoting an understanding of health literacy amongst undergraduate students. The module comprised:

1) a community based survey and subsequent literature review;
2) construction of a storyboard and audio script for a multimedia presentation to

communicate the health message;
3) construction of a multimedia presentation ; and
4) feedback on the presentation from the community.

Prior to the course, most students were unable to fully define the term ‘health literacy’. The module activities proved effective in promoting an understanding of health literacy with 83% of students self-reporting a better understanding of health literacy as a result of completing the module. After completing the module, the percentage of students over- estimating the prevalence of low ‘health literacy’ in the Australian population decreased from 71% to 18% (p<0.001). Significant improvements in the belief that health literacy is influenced by language and literacy levels, an individual’s interaction with their community (p<0.001 for both) and to a lesser extent numeracy skills (p<0.01) were also observed. The multimedia presentations constructed as an aspect of the module were well received within the community. Effective communication, in a form that is understandable and empowers consumers to manage their own health is fundamental to any health professional. Accordingly, all undergraduate health professionals should be given the opportunity to practice and master these skills throughout their training.

Keywords: health literacy; multimedia; teach-back technique; undergraduate students 

Developing health literacy skills through the use of community based surveys and multimedia productions

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Pearce, K.