The keynote Inez Bailey (CEO of the Irish National Adult Literacy Agency) talked about Health literacy in practice in Ireland. She started by explaining the remit of NALA, which includes health literacy, then she defined Health Literacy, situating literacy in social practice. Bailey identified that health literacy is required from the health agencies as well as from individual citizens. She also highlighted the importance of health numeracy as part of health literacy. Bailey presented statistics that showed higher-than-one-might-have-expected levels of poor literacy, numeracy and specifically health literacy. She showed how lower levels of health literacy correlated with behaviours (such as not attending health screening, taking the wrong doses of medicine) which lead to poorer health. NALA has an archive of research here https://www.nala.ie/research/ and aims to bring research evidence to bear in influencing policy.
NALA have developed the idea of being health literacy friendly (see slide, above), with recommendations to practitioners and policymakers of what this should involve, and has literacy-friendly quality standards, including the Crystal Clear quality mark (they found it was easier to get engagement with standrads from pharmacists than with GPs). Bailey went on to give examples of good practice and examples in using language and numbers, to make things easily understood. With food labelling, Bailey raised the issue that some food manufacturers might not want to be totally "plain" in their English if they were trying to make their food seem very healthy....
There were also a lot of interesting questions in discussion e.g. discussing why it is the 18-35 age group who are least likely to ask questions when they don't understand things, asking whether there is evidence that "plain English" writing works better (there is).
The second talk was from Heidi Enwald, Kristina Eriksson-Backa, Noora Hirvonen and Isto Huvila (presented by Enwald and Hirvonen) on Taking health information behaviour into account in user-centered design of e-health services - key findings from an ongoing research project. The extended abstract is here. They were presenting results from the Taking health information behaviour into account project. They are interested in how health information behaviour affects use of technologies associated with health services and information, with particular emphasis on older people.
They did systematic review which was recently published as Older adults’ views on eHealth services: a systematic review of scientific journal articles https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijmedinf.2019.104031 Key findings were that "Common themes [in the literature] include eHealth service uses, enablers and barriers, and outcomes; eHealth service use can have positive outcomes but also negative consequences; Findings indicate a positivity bias particularly in quantitative studies." Enwald talked about some other findings which have been published: there is a list of publications here http://blogs2.abo.fi/hiba/publications/ In 2019 they did a questionnaire survey and focus groups with older finns, in particular asking about using electronic health records, but they are writing those up at the moment.
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