Health literacy is a set of stable individual capacities that enable one to acquire, interpret and use new information.
2. Health literacy is a dynamic state of an individual that is influenced by the current health care system.
3. Health literacy is an achieved level of knowledge that varies based on individual’s learning ability and the resources provided by health care system.
The first definition highlights the individual’s ability to make appropriate decision based on the level of capability to acquire, process and understand new information. These capacities are relatively stable over time and may be improved with educational programs. The second definition emphasizes the close relationship between individual’s ability to process information and the surrounding such as the health care provider, the health care system and the media. The last definition argues that health knowledge partially belongs to health literacy. So health literacy largely depends on individual’s ability and will to learn and the reliability of the learning resources (Baker 2006). Baker further points out that the lack of shared meaning of the central term eventually creates confusion and disagreement between researchers and reviewers, thus inhibiting the progress in the study of this field. Finally, he draws attention to the fact that none of the commonly used tools of measurement can fully …show more content…
Commonly used tools includes TOFHLA, REALM and HALS. The two former tests are mostly used as short screening tools by clinicians in everyday practice with a broad range of population, while the latter one is often used as a comprehensive examination testing different health-related competencies in different domains (Nutbeam, 2008). The Test of Functional Health Literacy in Adults (TOFHLA) consists of 2 parts. The first part tests one’s ability to interpret document and numbers with a series of multiple-choice questions. For instance, various medication labels are given to patients who needs to indicate the number of pills they should take, the time to take the pills and the expiration date of the medication. The second part tests patients’ level of reading comprehension and vocabulary by giving them three passages of text from which selected words have been deleted and replaced with blank (Medscape Nurses, 2007; Nutbeam, 2008). Thus, TOFHLA meanly tests the reading fluency of patients. The Rapid Estimate of Adult Literacy in Medicine (REALM) consists of a list of 66 medical words of different levels such as fat, pelvic jaundice and osteoporosis. The examiner scores the patients based on their capabilities of recognizing and pronouncing each words correctly (Barker, 2006; Medscape Nurses, 2007). Thus REALM meanly focuses on patients’ level of medical-related vocabulary. The