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An applied evolutionary concept analysis of critical health literacy

Background: Interest in and debates around health literacy have grown over the last two decades and key to the discussions has been the distinction made between functional health literacy, communicative/interactive health literacy and critical health literacy. Of these, critical health literacy is the least well developed and differing interpretations of its constituents and relevance exist. Rigorous analysis of the concept of critical health literacy is necessary in order to offer some clarity of definition upon which appropriate theory, well grounded practice and potential measurement tools can be based. Research Aim: The aim of the study is to clarify the concept of critical health literacy and to examine its usefulness in enabling individuals and groups to take control over their health. Method: The study develops an Applied Evolutionary Concept Analysis method to systematically identify the features associated with this concept. A unique characteristic of this method is that it practically combines an analysis of the literature with in depth interviews undertaken with practitioners and policy makers who have an interest in the field. Finally, it explores the concept within a practice context using a case study method to examine two projects. Findings: Findings revealed that critical health literacy is a unique concept that has a different set of characteristics from similar but related concepts such as empowerment. Its framework of attributes is complex and multi faceted, consisting of advanced personal skills, health knowledge, advanced information and analysis skills, effective interaction between service providers and users, informed decision making and empowerment including political action. Critical health literacy is a transactional concept in that it exists at an individual and community level while being dependent upon the skills, commitment and political will of the health professionals, services and decision makers with whom they interact. Conclusion: This study has systematically delineated the concept of critical health literacy. It concludes that it is an important and unifying concept for health promotion and that there is value in developing it as a way of enabling individuals and communities to take control of their health at both a personal and structural level. The conceptual clarity that this study provides enables critical health literacy to be recognised and operationalised and offers problem solving opportunities for the goals of health promotion in addressing the social determinants of health, improving health outcomes and reducing health inequalities. The Applied Evolutionary Concept Analysis method developed in this study has been shown to be rigorous, with a clear philosophical basis and is useful and relevant for the field of health promotion.
Date January 2014
CreatorsSykes, Susie
PublisherLondon South Bank University
Source SetsEthos UK
Detected LanguageEnglish
TypeElectronic Thesis or Dissertation

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