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Course Catalog

410.651.01 Health Literacy: Challenges and Strategies for Effective Communication

Health Behavior and Society
3rd term
3 credits
Academic Year:
2013 - 2014
East Baltimore
Class Times:
  • M W,  3:30 - 4:50pm
Grading Restriction:
Letter Grade or Pass/Fail
Course Instructor:

Introduces the broad areas of literacy and health literacy, discusses approaches to the assessment of key health literacy skills linked to health outcomes, and explores techniques and approaches for the assessment and creation of print material especially appropriate for low literate audiences. Functional health literacy deficits are widespread and represent a significant challenge to the health of the public and the delivery of quality health care. The starting point and theoretical lens of the course is a communication empowerment framework in which levels of health literacy, ranging from functional to critical, are explored in relation to communication strategies designed to foster personal and community engagement in health issues. The framework acknowledges parallels to Paulo Freire’s critique of education and the development of critical consciousness.

Learning Objectives:

Upon successfully completing this course, students will be able to:

  1. Appreciate the prevalence of restricted literacy in the US and worldwide, the nature and consequences of literacy for health, and the variety of health literacy definitions
  2. Evaluate print communication, including reading burden, format and visual appeal
  3. Develop health education print materials suitable for both literate and low literate audiences
  4. Recognize the learner’s voice and appreciate the power of facilitating individual and community participation in learning and materials development through the use of traditional and non-traditional formats
  5. Develop health education material for a target audience using participatory strategies and production approaches addressed in class
Methods of Assessment:

1: Assessment and revision of a health education pamphlet; 2: Development of a short, behaviorally focused message to be communicated in a comic strip; 3: Working in a small group, create a health education material suitable for a low literate audience

Instructor Consent:

No consent required