244819 Advocating for organizational and institutional changes to improve health literacy: APHA and beyond

Tuesday, November 1, 2011: 12:48 PM

Stacy Robison, MPH, CHES , Communicate Health, Northampton, MA
M. Elaine Auld, MPH, CHES , Society for Public Health Education, Washington, DC
In May 2010, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released the National Action Plan to Improve Health Literacy. The National Action Plan provides broad system-level strategies for improving health literacy as well as suggests actions that organizations can take to promote positive changes in the public health and healthcare systems. Specifically, the Plan states: “Every organization and professional group involved in the development and dissemination of health information and services should have specific goals, objectives, strategies, policies, guidelines, and metrics to ensure that their actions improve health literacy.”

State and local policy makers, program administrators, health educators, and other frontline public health professionals can be important advocates for organizational and policy change, particularly as it relates to improved health communication and access to consumer information. This presentation discusses the key steps involved in advocating for and implementing organizational policies to improve health literacy, including: identifying and educating stakeholders; setting realistic objectives; implementing short-term changes to day-to-day operations; drafting organizational action plans and policies to support long-term change; and making linkages across public health priorities and practices.

The presentation will highlight recent health literacy resolutions adopted by APHA and the Society for Public Health Education (SOPHE) and their role in supporting the goals of the National Action Plan. Both resolutions issue a strong call to action for public health professionals, including a call for: professional preparation to enhance competencies related to health literacy; continuing education in clear health communication; and advocacy at the local, state, and national levels.

Learning Areas:
Advocacy for health and health education
Public health or related organizational policy, standards, or other guidelines

Learning Objectives:
Describe at least three specific ways to integrate health literacy improvement into your public health practice. Explain the importance of health literacy improvement to colleagues and decision-makers.

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am a co-author of the SOPHE resolution on health literacy and a contributing editor of the National Action Plan to Improve Health Literacy.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.