Accurate measurement of health literacy is essential to improve accessibility and effectiveness of health care and prevention. One measure frequently applied in international research is the Short Assessment of Health Literacy (SAHL). While the Dutch SAHL (SAHL-D) has proven to be valid and reliable, its administration is time consuming and burdensome for participants. Our aim was to further validate, strengthen and shorten the SAHL-D using Rasch analysis.
Available cross-sectional SAHL-D data was used from adult samples (N = 1231) to assess unidimensionality, local independence, item fit, person fit, item hierarchy, scale targeting, precision (person reliability and person separation), and presence of differential item functioning (DIF) depending on age, gender, education and study sample.
Thirteen items for a short form were selected based on item fit and DIF, and scale properties were compared between the two forms. The long form had several items with DIF for age, gender, educational level and study sample. Both forms showed lower measurement precision at higher health literacy levels.
The findings support the validity and reliability of the SAHL-D for the long form and the short form, which can be used for a rapid assessment of health literacy in research and clinical practice.
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Online health information (OHI) is widely available and consulted by many people in Western countries to gain health advice. The main goal of the present study is to provide a detailed account of the experiences among people from various demographic backgrounds living in high-income countries, who have used OHI.
Design and methods
Thematic analysis of 165 qualitative semi-structured interviews conducted among OHI users residing in Australia, Israel, the Netherlands, Norway, and Switzerland was performed.
The lived experience of people using OHI seem not to differ across countries. The interviews show that searches for OHI are motivated from curiosity, sharing of experiences, or affirmation for actions already taken. Most people find it difficult to appraise the information, leading them to cross-check sources or discuss OHI with others. OHI seems to impact mostly some specific types of health behaviors, such as changes in diet or physical activity, while it only plays a complementary role for more serious health concerns. Participants often check OHI before seeing their GP, but are reluctant to discuss online content with health care personnel due to expected negative reception.
This study adds to the body of knowledge on eHealth literacy by demonstrating how OHI affects overall health behavior, strengthens patients’ ability to understand, live with, and prepare themselves for diverse health challenges. The increasing digitalization of health communication and health care calls for further research on digital divides and patient-professional relations. Health care professionals should acknowledge OHI seeking and engage in discussions with patients to enable them to appreciate OHI, and to support shared decision making in health care. The professionals can utilize patient’s desire to learn as a resource for health prevention, promotion or treatment, and empowerment.
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How do people make choices in the supermarket? And how can you help them to select healthier products? To investigate this process, UMC Utrecht and the University of Amsterdam (UvA) developed the virtual supermarket: a fully immersive environment for participants. On 4 October, this innovative research tool will be presented at the Innovation Expo in Rotterdam. Continue reading
When looking for health information, many people turn to the Internet. Searching for online health information (OHI), however, also involves the risk of confirmation bias by means of selective exposure to information that confirms one’s existing beliefs and a biased evaluation of this information. This study tests whether biased selection and biased evaluation of OHI occur in the context of early-childhood vaccination and whether people’s health literacy (HL) level either prevents or facilitates these processes. Vaccination beliefs were measured for 480 parents of young children (aged 0–4 years) using an online survey, after which they were exposed to a list of ten vaccine-related message headers. People were asked to select those headers that interested them most. They also had to evaluate two texts which discussed vaccination positively and negatively for credibility, usefulness, and convincingness. The results showed that people select more belief-consistent information compared to belief-inconsistent information and perceived belief-confirming information as being more credible, useful, and convincing. Biased selection and biased perceptions of message convincingness were more prevalent among people with higher HL, and health communication professionals should be aware of this finding in their practice.
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Digital health information is widely available, especially on the Internet, but not everyone fully benefits from this information source due to limited health literacy. This is unfortunate, as people with limited health literacy are a vulnerable group that needs health information the most. Continue reading
Consumers of online health information often do not question the quality of what they find online and tend to evaluate the information based on criteria not recognized by existing web quality guidelines. People with low health literacy, in particular, use less established criteria and rely more heavily on non-established ones compared to those with high health literacy. Continue reading
Convincing health communication? Keep it simple
ASCoR PhD student Corine Meppelink was interviewed by Compriz, the trade association for communications professionals in health care. She talks about her reasons for choosing a career in research and why specifically Communication Science. Continue reading