Health literacy, underpinned by digital literacy, for the 21st Century

Informed, empowered and healthy digital citizens:

Health literacy, underpinned by digital literacy, for the 21st Century

 What is our aim?

Health Education England (HEE) and the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals (CILIP) are working together to support citizens to develop the skills that they will need to access, assess and use health information in an increasingly digital environment.

Health literacy: the issue to be addressed

Health literacy is the ability to access, critically review and use health information to make informed decisions.

With increasingly digital-first health services, citizens need health literacy skills underpinned by digital literacy.

The levels of health literacy in England are very low. Research by Rowlands et al (2015) shows that 43% adults aged 16-65 do not understand words-based health information sufficiently well to act on it; when numbers are added, 61% adults aged 16-65 do not understand.

How will we be working together?

We are inviting key partner organisations to join us to establish a ‘sustainable, common information environment through which skilled librarians and information providers support and empower digitally and health literate citizens’.

HEE is committed to a five-year initiative through which ‘health librarians will partner with a variety of information providers, supporting digital and health literacy’. We look forward to working with partners, each able to bring their expertise to the partnership and, for example, to share experience, learning and other resources.

As a first step, we brought organisations together for a virtual round table on 20th August. The round table demonstrated an appetite to develop a joint programme of work, with collaboration where appropriate also on parallel activities.

What will be the focus of the partnership?

Information workers across sectors are ideally placed to develop the health literacy skills and underpinning digital literacy skills of citizens. Many NHS library and knowledge staff are already working locally with information workers in their local communities, such as public library staff and community pharmacists, to provide training on health literacy techniques. We will expand the sharing of tools, such as the Health Literacy e-learning and geodata on variation in local health literacy levels. Local partnerships will embed skills for citizens.

If you have ideas for initiatives or are interested in partnership, please contact knowledgeforhealthcare.england@hee.nhs.uk

Ruth Carlyle @RuthCarlyle

 

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