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

Diane Levin-Zamir, Angela Yee Man Leung, Sarity Dodson, Gillian Rowlands

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


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.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationHealth Literacy
Subtitle of host publicationNew Directions in Research, Theory and Practice
EditorsRobert A. Logan, Elliot R. Siegel
PublisherIOS Press
Number of pages23
ISBN (Electronic)9781614997894
StatePublished - 2017

Publication series

NameStudies in Health Technology and Informatics
ISSN (Print)0926-9630
ISSN (Electronic)1879-8365

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 The authors and IOS Press. All rights reserved.


  • Health literacy
  • cultural competency
  • digital health literacy
  • media health literacy
  • patient-provider communication
  • shared decision making

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Health Informatics
  • Health Information Management


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