Into the looking glass: A collective self-assessment of health literacy (2)

10 April, 2022

Dear Andrew,

Thank you for distributing your survey on health literacy

I have completed the survey myself and, as you say, the 10 questions are quick and easy to answer. I would be interested to hear more about how the results will be used.

Meanwhile, one question stood out for me, with my response:

"5. If you had a 'magic wand', what would you do first to improve the work being done with the concept(s) of health literacy around the world? (Please select or suggest no more than three items)

My response: 'focus on role of information providers to help people differentiate between reliable and unreliable information'

The focus of most health literacy efforts is to elevate individual literacy. This is clearly important. But equally important, and inadequately addressed, is the role of health information providers and what they can do to facilitate differentiation between reliable and unreliable information. Examples include the Health on the Net Foundation, which recognises health websites whose content is driven by approaches that support reliability and transparency. Imagine a world where the user would see such a signal (or absence thereof) on any health website they might visit. A world where the HoN code (or another marker of quality, such as the proposed, and thwarted, idea a a DOT health top level domain managed by international health agencies) is widely known to be a marker of reliability (even if some people may choose to ignore it).

Another example is the (currently woefully inadequate) efforts by social media giants to steer people towards reliable information and protect them from misinformation.

Neil Pakenham-Walsh, Global Coordinator HIFA,