Health Literacy Research Hub: Hawai‘i

Personal health literacy is defined by Healthy People 2030 as “the degree to which individuals have the ability to find, understand, and use information and services to inform health-related decisions and actions for themselves and others.” 

Health literacy is relevant to the state of Hawai‘i in many ways. Dr. Tetine Sentell has researched health disparities and health literacy for over twenty-five years, considering these issues across multiple health outcomes. Research teams have included many valued colleagues and talented students. Current students engaged in health literacy research include Uday Patil, PhD student in Public Health, Uliana Kostareva, PhD student in Nursing, and Anam Maniar, an undergraduate Public Health student. Valued students and partners across academic and community settings make this work possible.

Taken together, this research has provided a detailed consideration of the distinct role of low health literacy in health disparities, especially within linguistically vulnerable communities, including Asian American and Pacific Islanders. This research has also considered solutions to these inequities, including digital health communication strategies. It has highlighted the importance of looking at health literacy beyond the individual-level to include families, social networks, and communities. This focus is relevant to a strength-based approach to achieven health equity in Pacific Islander, Asian, and many other communities. 

The health organization perspective is also critical. Organizational health literacy is defined by Healthy People 2030 as “the degree to which organizations equitably enable individuals to find, understand, and use information and services to inform health-related decisions and actions for themselves and others.” In this perspective, it is the responsibility of the organization to make it possible for individuals and populations to achieve health literacy.

This web page consolidates studies across various efforts that have relevance to building health literacy, particularly highlighting studies on this topic of relevance to Hawai‘i. This resource is designed to provide background information and ideas for future research on health literacy related topics in the Pacific context. If you want to join us in this work or have resources to share, please write to us at or follow us on Twitter at @hlithawaii.

Health Literacy in a Social Context 

Documenting Health Literacy Disparities

Health Literacy, Language, and Immigration 

Health Literacy in College Students and Adolescents 

Ideas/Solutions to Address Health Literacy Inequities