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Health Literacy in Selected Populations: Individuals, Families, and Communities from the International and Cultural Perspective

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Gill Rowlands



This is the authors' accepted manuscript of a book chapter that has been published in its final definitive form by IOS Press, 2017.

For re-use rights please refer to the publisher's terms and conditions.


International and cultural perspectives of health literacy help deepen the understanding of the global context within which health literacy plays an important role. Throughout this chapter, we explore the significance of health literacy initiatives, interventions, practices, and research for addressing health challenges on a variety of levels in the international and global context. More specifically, in this chapter, the notion of health literacy as a dynamic construct is introduced, after which we examine health literacy throughout the life course, emphasizing the impact of health literacy among children and the elderly in their families and in the community. Cultural norms and family interpersonal relations, and values influence health literacy and need to be considered when closing the health literacy disparities. Global trends of migration and immigration bring to the forefront the need for unravelling the complexity of health systems, for which health literacy plays a central role; health literacy initiatives address cultural differences between providers and patients to help narrow the communication gap. The importance of cultural competency among health care providers exemplifies how capacity building in health literacy is critical for maximizing the benefits to the public of the health care system. Health literacy provides a conceptual foundation for community participatory research, involving members of the public to take part in the planning, execution and evaluation of health education interventions. Throughout the chapter, selected case studies and picture boxes from around the globe, exemplify aforementioned topics of interest, showcased in the chapter. Practical recommendations for policy makers, practitioners and research are offered based on the studies conducted in the international context.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Levin-Zamir D, Leung AYM, Dodson S, Rowlands G

Editor(s): Robert A. Logan, Elliot R. Siegel

Publication type: Book Chapter

Publication status: Published

Book Title: Health literacy: new directions in research, theory, and practice

Year: 2017

Volume: 240

Pages: 392-414

Print publication date: 17/10/2017

Acceptance date: 30/06/2016

Series Title: Studies in Health Technology and Informatics

Publisher: IOS Press

Place Published: Amsterdam


DOI: 10.3233/978-1-61499-790-0-392

Library holdings: Search Newcastle University Library for this item

ISBN: 9781614997894