Journal Article

Understanding health literacy: an expanded model

Christina Zarcadoolas, Andrew Pleasant and David S. Greer

in Health Promotion International

Volume 20, issue 2, pages 195-203
Published in print June 2005 | ISSN: 0957-4824
Published online March 2005 | e-ISSN: 1460-2245 | DOI:
Understanding health literacy: an expanded model

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A long and yet unfinished history of investigating how individual capabilities and social processes explain or predict health indicates that poor education, low literacy, poor health and early death are strongly linked around the world. However, the complexity of those relationships is not fully understood. In this article, we propose an expanded model of health literacy characterized by four domains: fundamental literacy (reading, writing, speaking and numeracy), science literacy, civic literacy and cultural literacy. To explore the utility of this model, we examine selected pieces of the public discourse about terrorism and bioterrorism that dominated the mass media during the anthrax threat in the United States during 2001. We conclude that this model of health literacy is useful to analyze health communication, to aid in constructing more understandable and appropriate health communication, and ultimately can lead to the development of a new measure to assess health literacy skills in individuals.

Keywords: bioterrorism; literacy; health literacy; public health

Journal Article.  4994 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Public Health and Epidemiology

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