There are many theories which serve as fundamental building blocks for practice in nursing. They often also serve as frameworks for research. One such theory is health literacy theory. The purpose of this paper is to present what health literacy theory is, review its use in a research-oriented article, evaluate its relevance or appropriateness to guide practice or research based on that article, and how I might apply this theory in your future advanced role. Health Literacy Theory Example Paper
Health literacy theory is a concept which stresses the idea that individuals should be “literate” in terms of skills that “maintain or improve health” (Hepburn, 2012, p. 230). Hepburn (2012) provides a comprehensive account of the skills which are included in the idea of health literacy: “cognitive (knowledge), behavioral (functional), advocatory (proactive), and existential (spiritual), and incorporates basic skills such as reading, writing and numeracy, and foster the ability to effectively analyze, communicate and question existing information in order to make sense of life with uncertainty and illness” (p. 230). Health literacy skills are a combination of basic and sophisticated elements which enable the individual to not only understand how to be health literate but also why one should be health literate.
There are three levels of health literacy: level I or functional literacy, which is the “ability to apply basic health literacy skills, such as reading and understanding medication labels”; level II or interactive health literacy, which “involves use of cognitive skills and operate in a social environment supports social participation in health-related issues in the community”; and level III or critical literacy, which “incorporates the ability to evaluate health issues, determine the challenges and advantages of specific issues, recognize the potential benefit of a particular strategy, and offer advice at the community level” (Hepburn, 2012, p. 230). Health literacy necessitates that an individual have or develop the competence to understand health information and be proactive relative to health-related objectives (Hepburn, 2012). Hepburn (2012) goes on to state that it is in regard to health literacy where clinicians may fail – a clinician may not have the right or adequate expertise to address all levels. Health Literacy Theory Example Paper