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Health Literacy: Challenges and Strategies for Effective Communication

2nd term
Health Behavior and Society
3 credits
Academic Year:
2022 - 2023
Instruction Method:
Asynchronous Online with Some Synchronous Online
Auditors Allowed:
Yes, with instructor consent
Undergrads Allowed:
Grading Restriction:
Letter Grade or Pass/Fail
Course Instructor:
Chenery Lowe

Introduction to Online Learning is required prior to participating in any of the School's Internet-based courses.


Functional health literacy deficits are widespread and represent a significant challenge to the health of the public and the delivery of quality health care. Address of these deficits is not dependent on more formal education but in conveying health information in a meaningful, actionable and accessible manner to individuals with poor literacy skills. This course will help students appreciate the literacy demand challenges presented in common print-based, web-based and face to face communication during health encounters and approaches to their amelioration.

Introduces the broad areas of literacy and health literacy. Discusses approaches to the assessment of key health literacy skills linked to behavioral and health outcomes. Prepares students to create and evaluate print-based health education materials suitable for low literate audiences. Introduces frameworks suitable for literacy assessment of web-based health information and oral literacy demand of medical encounters.

Learning Objectives:

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

  1. Discuss the common definitions and measures of literacy, functional literacy and health literacy in the U.S. and worldwide, and the consequences of literacy deficits for patient empowerment, health-related behaviors and health outcomes.
  2. Describe the nature of the literacy environment and key attributes of literate health care organizations
  3. Develop skill in producing and evaluating health education materials suitable for users with restricted literacy skills
  4. Develop skill in evaluating the suitability of websites for users with restricted literacy
  5. Critically assess health information presented through advertising, news and entertainment and how it is perceived across the literacy continuum.
Methods of Assessment:

This course is evaluated as follows:

  • 5% LiveTalks
  • 10% Quizzes
  • 35% Final Project
  • 20% Presentation(s)
  • 10% Discussion Board
  • 20% Written Assignment(s)

Instructor Consent:

No consent required