Adult Education as a Vehicle for Health Communication Open Access

Freedman, Ariela Michal (2011)

Permanent URL: https://etd.library.emory.edu/concern/etds/qv33rx422?locale=en
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Abstract

Health literacy is rapidly gaining attention in health education interventions, yet
most still consider it to be an issue only for poor readers. Instead, health literacy should
be seen as the dynamic intersection of the environment, the demands of the task, and the
individual's skills and emotional state. Through this lens, everyone experiences health
literacy challenges at some point. Thus, considering health education as health literacy
education may help increase the effectiveness of future interventions. Further, while most
health education interventions apply a scientific approach to selection and use of behavior
change theories, little attention is paid to how individuals learn new information and
skills.
The first component of this research provides an instructional foundation for
interventions by integrating cognitive psychology and adult learning theory to explain
how individuals acquire functional health literacy skills (the basic health-related skills
needed for daily living activities in order to ensure personal health). The integration of
these disciplines focuses on the importance of classroom environment and educational
strategies.
The second component uses a qualitative case study example based on classroom
observations and interviews with students and teachers in an Atlanta-area adult education
center's health literacy class. This case study applies the theories described in component
one to describe how students acquire functional health literacy skills, such as reading
food labels or medication instructions. Results describe students' resulting health
behavior changes, including improving nutrition, increasing physical activity, and
increasing medication adherence. Results also describe how the classroom experience
motivates students to function as lay health advisors by sharing information and skills
with loved ones outside the classroom.
Ultimately, this study suggests that functional health literacy skills are the
foundation of behavior change interventions. This study also demonstrates how the field
of health education can benefit by looking to cognitive psychology and adult education to
provide a rigorous instructional foundation for future intervention development. Finally,
this study demonstrates that the skills learned in adult education classes may reach far
beyond the walls of the classroom, thus making adult education a powerful
communication vehicle for reaching low literate adults with critical functional health
literacy skills.

Table of Contents


Table of Contents

CHAPTER 1: Introductory Literature Review






Defining Health Literacy






1
The Connection Between Health and Literacy



2
Scope of the Low Health Literacy Problem
3
Communicating Health Information to Low Literate Populations

3
Adult Education: Teaching Practical Skills to Low Literate Adults
5
Adult Learning Theory






6
Adult Education as a Vehicle for Health Communication with
Low Literate Adults






9

Cognitive Psychology Adding Depth to Understanding Health Literacy
Skill Adoption







12
Diffusion of Innovations: A Framework to Understand Skill Adoption
18
Diffusion of Information and Skills




20
Description of Case Study Context and Participants


22
Aims of Current Research






24
Implications and Innovations of Proposed Research


26
Connection Between Subsequent Chapters



27
References








29

CHAPTER 2: Health Education is Health Literacy: Maximizing the impact
of health education interventions by focusing on how individuals acquire
skills for behavior change






Abstract








35
Introduction







36
Health Literacy







38
Cognitive Psychology






40
Adult Learning Theory






44
Integration of Cognitive Psychology and Adult Learning Theory in
Behavior Change Interventions





45
Conclusion








55
References








56

CHAPTER 3: Better Learning Through Instructional Science: A health
literacy case study in "how to teach so learners can learn"


Abstract








60
Introduction







61
Methods








66
Results








68
Discussion








81
References








84




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