Work Block 1 – Basic Research

In this workgroup, three sub-projects TeCoMo, MoMChild, and MOHLAA are carrying out basic research on health literacy. While TeCoMo centres on health literacy theories, concepts and models, MoMChild and MOHLAA are developing tools to measure health literacy of children (9-10 year old) and adolescents (14-17 year old). The research framework is embedded into health promotion and prevention contexts focussing on life worlds and taking a broad perspective on health literacy.

Subprojects

  • TeCoMo – Theories, Concepts, and Models on Health Literacy in Childhood and Adolescence
  • MoMChild – Methods of Measuring Health Literacy of Children
  • MOHLAA – Measurement of Health Literacy Among Adolescents

Background

Since the 1990ies, the amount of health literacy models and measurement tools is continuously increasing. Until a couple of years ago the focus mainly remained on adult populations when developing such models and tools. The gap in models and definitions designed for young populations makes it difficult to understand and analyse the meaning for and the benefit of health literacy for them. To meet the needs and demands of children and adolescents in context of health literacy it will be precaution to close these gaps, and to use them as foundation for tool development. However, recent trends in health literacy research provide slightly observable movements considering conceptual frameworks and methodologies for the child and adolescent population. Past studies related to children and/or youth often used their own understanding of health literacy, and thereby they developed models that are foremost only applicable in their own specific study what in turn makes it difficult to transfer them to new study designs. Fast screening tools originally developed for adults in health care setting are being used in the child population as well but are inadequate to measure more than only functional health literacy skills such as reading, writing, and numeracy. The same is true for tools that are based on broader models of health literacy but addressing adults rather than children or adolescents. Therefore, on the one hand there is a need to develop a broad but realistic health literacy model that on the other hand can be operationalised into to validated tools.

Expected outcome and benefits

The basic research pillar aims at developing health literacy models and tools specifically designed for the child and youth target population. Rethinking context and social structures, taking into account the relevance of equity for health and health literacy, and producing workable and applicable frameworks will in turn support the development of effective health literacy interventions. This will allow integrating health literacy into the process of health promotion within the child and adolescent population.