Author(s): Norman CD, Skinner HA
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Abstract Electronic health tools provide little value if the intended users lack the skills to effectively engage them. With nearly half the adult population in the United States and Canada having literacy levels below what is needed to fully engage in an information-rich society, the implications for using information technology to promote health and aid in health care, or for eHealth, are considerable. Engaging with eHealth requires a skill set, or literacy, of its own. The concept of eHealth literacy is introduced and defined as the ability to seek, find, understand, and appraise health information from electronic sources and apply the knowledge gained to addressing or solving a health problem. In this paper, a model of eHealth literacy is introduced, comprised of multiple literacy types, including an outline of a set of fundamental skills consumers require to derive direct benefits from eHealth. A profile of each literacy type with examples of the problems patient-clients might present is provided along with a resource list to aid health practitioners in supporting literacy improvement with their patient-clients across each domain. Facets of the model are illustrated through a set of clinical cases to demonstrate how health practitioners can address eHealth literacy issues in clinical or public health practice. Potential future applications of the model are discussed.
This article was published in J Med Internet Res
and referenced in Journal of Gerontology & Geriatric Research