Increasing health literacy in adolescents

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Montana State University - Bozeman, College of Nursing


Nearly half of American adults have difficulty understanding and using health information. Despite numerous efforts to address health literacy, measurable improvements have been limited. Measures and improvements in the health literacy of adolescents are even more inadequate. Adolescents are developing important life skills and health behaviors which makes this an opportune stage in life to intervene and improve health literacy. The purpose of this project was to measure and increase health literacy among adolescents. To achieve this purpose, a sample of 23 adolescents, age 15-16, participated in a pre-test survey to measure health literacy using the Newest Vital Sign and eHEALS, attended an educational intervention, and completed a post-test survey to re-measure health literacy. The educational intervention contained information on where to find health information online and how to evaluate those sources. The pre-test survey scores on the Newest Vital Sign indicate that most of the 23 participants (65%) had adequate health literacy prior to the educational intervention. Following the educational intervention, there was no significant change in the participants' Newest Vital Sign scores while there was a significant improvement in the eHEALS scores. The results indicate that the educational intervention improved participants' perceived skills at using electronic health information. Further research and programs are needed to continue to identify successful methods of improving health literacy in adolescents. Measuring the health literacy of patients allows providers to tailor communication and education to each patient and improve the patients' experience.




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