Assessing health literacy : a new domain for collaboration between language testers and health professionals

Elder, Catherine, Barber, Melissa, Staples, Margaret, Osborne, Richard H., Clerehan, Rosemary and Buchbinder, Rachelle 2012, Assessing health literacy : a new domain for collaboration between language testers and health professionals, Language assessment quarterly : an international journal, vol. 9, no. 3, pp. 205-224, doi: 10.1080/15434303.2011.627751.

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Title Assessing health literacy : a new domain for collaboration between language testers and health professionals
Author(s) Elder, Catherine
Barber, Melissa
Staples, Margaret
Osborne, Richard H.ORCID iD for Osborne, Richard H.
Clerehan, Rosemary
Buchbinder, Rachelle
Journal name Language assessment quarterly : an international journal
Volume number 9
Issue number 3
Start page 205
End page 224
Total pages 20
Publisher Routledge
Place of publication Philadelphia, Pa.
Publication date 2012
ISSN 1543-4303
Keyword(s) health literacy
health professionals
language specialists
Summary Health literacy, defined as an individual's capacity to process health information in order to make appropriate health decisions, is the focus of increasing attention in medical fields due to growing awareness that suboptimal health literacy is associated with poorer health outcomes. To explore this issue, a number of instruments, reported to have high internal consistency and strong correlations with general literacy tests, have been developed. However, their validity as measures of the target construct is seldom explored using multiple sources of evidence. The current study, involving collaboration between health professionals and language specialists, set out to assess the validity of the Rapid Estimate of Adult Literacy in Medicine (REALM), which describes itself as a “reading recognition” test that measures ability to pronounce common medical and lay terms. Drawing on a sample of 310 respondents, including both native and non-native speakers of English, investigations were undertaken to probe the REALM's validity as a measure of understanding the selected terms and to consider associations between scores on this widely used test and those derived from other recognized health literacy tests. Results suggest that the REALM is underrepresenting the health literacy construct and that the test may also be biased against non-native speakers of English. The study points to an expanded role for language testers, working in collaboration with experts from medical disciplines, in developing and evaluating health literacy tools.
Language eng
DOI 10.1080/15434303.2011.627751
Field of Research 111717 Primary Health Care
Socio Economic Objective 920205 Health Education and Promotion
HERDC Research category C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal
Grant ID NHMRC 400391
Copyright notice ©2012, Taylor & Francis
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Document type: Journal Article
Collections: Faculty of Health
Population Health
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