Consumer Health Information Literacy: Prescriptions for Practices and Partnerships


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In 2003, the Medical Library Association Task Force on Health Information Literacy (HIL) merged existing definitions of health literacy (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2000) and information literacy (American Library Association, 1989) to develop a working definition of HIL: “the set of abilities needed to recognize a health information need; identify likely information sources and use them to retrieve relevant information; assess the quality of the information and its applicability to a specific situation; and analyze, understand, and use the information to make good health decisions.” This poster illustrates the underpinnings of this relatively new concept, its application to health consumers (users of the health care system), the importance of improving consumers’ HIL levels, and the need for involvement and collaboration from all types of libraries. This poster showcases what libraries are already doing concerning consumer health information literacy, particularly in respect to creating and leveraging partnerships with other libraries, health care providers, and community-based organizations. Based on the analysis of these efforts, poster delineates best practices and future areas of development.

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Consumer Health Information Literacy: Prescriptions for Practices and Partnerships

  1. 1. Consumer Health Information Literacy: Prescriptions for Practices and Partnerships Presented by Lana Brand and Brittany Rhea Deputy University of South Florida School of Information Health Literacy Health Impact Best Practices Partnerships Defined by the National  According to Pew Internet surveys, 75% of online 1) Attend Teacher Librarian Training Classes Public Libraries: Iowa City Public Assessment of Adult health information seekers inconsistently check the  Effective teacher tools Library created the Expanding Access to Literacy (NAAL) as the quality of what they find, yet 60% of them say their most  Consumer health information reference training Consumer Health Electronic Resources ability to use written recent search had an impact on their own health or the  Policy training on health information Program with help from a grant from the information associated way they care for someone else. National Library of Medicine (NLM) and with a broad range of 2) Create a Consumer Health Information Literacy the National Network of Libraries of  Even the majority of the 86% of adults who do ask an Curriculum health-related tasks to Medicine (NNLM). authoritative health care professional for information will  Provide an understanding of the structure, accomplish one’s goals. struggle to understand and use the information. organization, and navigation of the Web. Academic Libraries: The Western New York Consumer NAAL Health Literacy Levels:  Enable exploration, selection, and evaluation of Health Outreach Program educates the senior citizen credible consumer health information resources. population of Western New York about effective IMAGE  Examine tools for filtering information. consumer health information internet searching SOURCE: U.S. Dept.  Model best practices in searching and evaluating strategies and analysis of resources. of Education health information on the Web.  Focus mainly on information from government, Academic Health Science Programs: IMAGE SOURCE: Kate Singleton not-for-profit, state and local health departments, In particular, Mini-Med School Programs  Consumers’ health information literacy level is a and social service departments. which are condensed pre-clinical stronger predictor of their health status than age, lectures given by medical faculty income, education level, and racial or ethnic group. 3) Teach Tailored Consumer Classes and staff for interested community  Pre-test the participants for basic computer and members. The SUNY Stony Brook Web competency; divide accordingly. Mini-Med School Program incorporated Information Literacy  Provide individual computer work stations. consumer health information literacy instruction. Economic Impact  Give visual demonstrations before hands-on Defined by the ALA as the ability to  Consumers with limited health information literacy exercises in some variation of a 10:15 time model. recognize when information is utilize fewer preventative services and, as a result, visit Medical Libraries:  Keep class as entertaining as it is informational to needed and to locate, the emergency room more often, increasing health care The MLA’s Health hold participants’ interest and attention. evaluate, and use it costs for the individual and the system at large. Information Literacy Research Project produced the  Distribute take-home materials and create online effectively. Information Rx Tool Kit, an educational curriculum to be  The annual cost of low health information literacy follow-up support. administered to health care professionals about According to a 2009 Pew ranges from $106 billion to $238 billion. 4) Community Outreach consumers’ health information literacy, as well as the Internet Survey, 61% of American adults looked  Future costs that result from current actions, or lack  Ask local media to advertise the program. impact of hospital and consumer health libraries. online for health information, thereof, are estimated to be between $1.6 to $3.6 trillion.  Set up exhibits in popular public locations. Health Care Providers: With help more than twice as many as in 2000.  Participate in health fairs and in fitness-related from the MLA and the NLM, events. librarians can partner with health  Establish health information access points in health care providers to give patients Health Information Literacy The Role of the Librarian clinics. information prescriptions with Defined by the Medical Library  The public library is one of the first places these Information Rx pads. 5) Form Partnerships with Stakeholders Association (MLA) as the ability to consumers turn for health information,  Literacy groups recognize a health information need, making librarians “front-line workers.” Community Based Organizations: RVHC  Community-based organizations to identify likely sources and use them to Coalition partnered with local libraries and  An average of 1 in 5 reference questions  Public and private schools retrieve relevant information, to assess schools to initiate a health information literacy are consumer health-related.  Senior-citizen facilities its quality and its applicability to a project.  Health care associations specific situation, and to analyze, understand, and use  Librarians can build bridges between  Other libraries the information to make good health decisions. high-quality resources and consumers. Summary Summary Areas for Future Development Consumers need to know: Librarians are especially important to improving Putting the “information” into health literacy is a relatively new concept and practice, so there are many areas for growth:  When and why they need health information. consumer health information literacy levels:  Measurement of consumers’ health information literacy levels  Where to find health information.  We are information experts.  Assessment of program and intervention impact  How to evaluate the health information they find.  We have access to consumers.  Budget analysis of program funding and implementation  How to use health information to make decisions.  We connect people and resources.  Active marketing of programs for consumers and of certification for librariansPrinted by: USF Shimberg Graphic Design & Printing