Development of a Core Online Health Literacy Course in Canada

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Abstract

Health literacy has implications for people’s ability to make healthy decisions and manage their own health. To improve health literacy, we need to improve the knowledge and skills of those who receive and those who provide health information and services, while paying attention to demands of the environment that shape people’s skills and abilities. Higher education can play a critical role in nurturing a health literate population. This article articulates the need to integrate health literacy courses into health-related degree programs through the integration of Bandura’s work and Core Competencies for Public Health put forward by Canada. Offering such courses in varying formats will help prepare learners to better understand the growing demand for a health literate workforce and will contribute to the ongoing public health initiatives in improving health-related settings by removing health-related barriers. This article outlines the need for a systematic development of health literacy courses based on the integration of instructional and health literacy principles. An example of a core online undergraduate health literacy course in Canada is presented. Insights are offered into how educators can develop and modify their own health literacy courses, which aim to help learners explore ideologies, practices, tools, and policies guiding health literacy efforts for diverse people across settings.

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