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Environmental Health Literacy-An emerging and important field for environmental public health
Monday, November 17, 2014: 10:30 AM - 12:00 PM
Health literacy is a widely accepted concept that focuses primarily on how individuals obtain, process, and understand information related to a specific health condition affecting them. While this concept is important, we believe that it does not address communication and translational needs in environmental health sciences which is more focused on awareness related to prevention. In this session, we highlight the value of an upstream focus on communications that promotes prevention by increasing individuals’ environmental health literacy (EHL).
For the purposes of this session, we define EHL as the understanding of the link between environmental exposures and health. EHL is an emerging field that bridges shared concepts from the fields of risk communication, environmental health science, behavioral science, evaluation, communications, public health, and social sciences. The process of becoming environmentally health literate entails raising scientific literacy, environmental literacy, as well as numeracy among the general public, while increasing awareness of specific exposures and their potential health effects. What separates EHL from health literacy is its emphasis on developing the ability and capacity of individuals and communities to act on this knowledge to prevent, mitigate or regulate exposures or to extrapolate risk from additional or new exposures.
EHL is increasingly recognized, particularly by those working in community-engaged research, as a necessary tool for empowering individuals and communities to participate actively in efforts to address environmental exposures of local or regional concern. Communication and dialogue among all research partners is central to effective community-engaged research and to implementing the findings of such research into public health initiatives and educational materials. Therefore, community residents, healthcare professionals, and decision-makers all benefit from possessing a basic level of EHL.
This session will emphasize the importance of EHL to environmental health science, community-engaged research, and to environmental justice. It will outline the emergence and evolution of EHL, describe a model of EHL’s evolutionary stages, highlight different perspectives of EHL, and provide case examples of how EHL is a vital component of working with different community groups.
Session Objectives: 1. Explain the evolution of environmental health literacy over the past 20 years.
2. Describe how environmental health literacy fits within the context of health literacy.
3. Discuss the importance of environmental health literacy in the context of environmental health disparities and environmental justice.
4. Describe how environmental health literacy is critical for risk communication efforts.
See individual abstracts for presenting author's disclosure statement and author's information.
Organized by: Environment
Endorsed by: American Indian, Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian Caucus
Medical (CME), Health Education (CHES), Nursing (CNE), Public Health (CPH)
Masters Certified Health Education Specialist (MCHES)