Incorporating digital health literacy into adult ESL education on the US-Mexico border

Erika Mein, Brenda Fuentes, Francisco Soto Mas, Andres Muro

Abstract


The increasing digitization of information and communication has undoubtedly impacted the ways in which people in the United States access and interpret health information. Although the traditional emphasis of health literacy research has been the comprehension of health-related texts such as patient information forms, prescriptions, and medicine labels, the increased use of electronic means to locate health information requires more critical engagement with texts beyond basic comprehension. In accessing electronic health information, patients need to be able to navigate the vast amount of online health information and to interpret and synthesize health information across multiple sources (i.e. websites) while also evaluating the credibility of these sources. Recent health literacy research has examined the increased role of the media literacy in influencing health behaviors (Bergsma & Carney, 2008) and the role of increased access to computers (Salovey et al., 2009), but little (if any) research to date has provided recommendations for best practices related to meeting the health literacy demands required by digitization. This article attempts to fill this gap by exploring the use of the internet as a key source of health information and by looking at best practices in teaching digital health literacy. It describes the development of a digital literacy component within a community-based health literacy/ESL curriculum funded by the National Institutes of Health and implemented on the US-Mexico border.

Keywords


literacy; adult education; digital literacies; health literacy

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