Unit 1: An Introduction to Health Literacy


Learning Objectives

After completing unit activities, learners will:

  • Effectively identify and explain health literacy and its connection to online health information through the completion of readings and video
  • Explain the benefits of implementing health information literacy into their existing health education courses within the unit reflection

To Do List

  • Review Unit Introduction
  • Watch YouTube Video and read assigned readings
  • Submit a reflection entry on assigned activities and readings
  • Browse and review additional resources (optional)


According to the CDC and Healthy People 2030, health literacy is defined as “the degree to which individuals have the capacity to obtain, process, and understand basic health information and services needed to make appropriate health decisions” (CDC, 2021). With so much information on the internet, it is difficult for individuals to discern whether or not the information they are reading is authoritative. In an age where information is widely shared with a Tweet or a Facebook post, misinformation can spread like wildfire. In fact, a study “concluded that most of the messages had false information and that 'bad' tweets were more retweeted than the ones with truthful information” (Fernández-Luque & Bau, 2015, p.71).

There are different ways to improve health literacy (or health information literacy). The National Plan to Improve Health Literacy offers seven goals to improve health literacy levels within the United States population. One way is to “incorporate accurate, standards-based, and developmentally appropriate health and science information and curricula in child care and education through the university level” (Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, 2010, p. 1).

Not every health education class includes segments on ways to critically evaluate online health information. This course will explain to health education teachers the importance of health literacy- specifically health information literacy. It will provide skills and resources to create a health literacy-centered class or lesson plan.

Unit 1 introduces the important terminology and background information on health literacy. Throughout the learning units, educators will learn how to instruct students on how to "obtain" quality online health information.

Works Cited
* Center for Disease Control. What Is Health Literacy? | Health Literacy | CDC. (2021, January 28). 
* Fernández-Luque, L., & Bau, T. (2015). Health and Social Media: Perfect Storm of Information. Healthcare 
Informatics Research, 21(2), 67–73. https://doi.org/10.4258/hir.2015.21.2.67
* Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. (2010). National Action Plan to Improve Health Literacy | 
health.gov. Health.Gov. https://health.gov/our-work/health-literacy/national-action-plan-improve-health- 

YouTube Video

Are you confused about health information? You're not alone | Lisa Fitzpatrick | TEDxMidAtlantic

Assigned Readings

What Is Health Literacy?. Health Literacy. CDC. (2021, January 28). https://www.cdc.gov/healthliteracy/learn/index.html

Ghaddar, S. F., Valerio, M. A., Garcia, C. M., & Hansen, L. (2012). Adolescent Health Literacy: The Importance of Credible Sources for Online Health Information. Journal of School Health, 82(1), 28–36. https://doi.org/https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1746-1561.2011.00664.x

Levin-Zamir, D., & Bertschi, I. (2018). Media Health Literacy, eHealth Literacy, and the Role of the Social Environment in Context. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 15(8), 1643. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph15081643


After you have reviewed the assigned readings and mini-course lecture, submit a 250-500 word reflection. Use the Google Form to submit your writing. Be sure to cite two of the assigned readings and one outside source of your choice.


Additional Resources

Vamos, S., Okan, O., Sentell, T., & Rootman, I. (2020). Making a Case for "Education for Health Literacy": An International Perspective. International journal of environmental research and public health, 17(4), 1436. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph1704143

Higgins, J. W., & Begoray, D. (2012). Exploring the Borderlands between Media and Health: Conceptualizing" Critical Media Health Literacy". Journal of Media Literacy Education, 4(2), 136-148.


Return to Evaluating Online Health Information Mini-Course

Go on to Unit 2: Evaluating Health Information on the Internet