Health Literacy and Medical Policy Advocacy

AuthorThomas Zimmerman,Bonnie Stabile,Otmar Kloiber,Charles R. Doarn,Arnauld Nicogossian
Published date01 June 2015
Date01 June 2015
Health Literacy and Medical Policy Advocacy
Arnauld Nicogossian, Bonnie Stabile, Otmar Kloiber, Thomas Zimmerman,
and Charles R. Doarn
In 2014, almost one third of the world’s population had access to the f‌ixed
Internet through individual home computers or mobile devices, with China
and the United States being the top users. Introduction of mobile devices
produced signif‌icant shifts in access to information. The network penetration
is now approaching the size of the world population, providing more
convenient, affordable, on demand, and on the go services. This expanded
access has led to a new global cyber-society, which is inf‌luencing socio-
economic, political, and educational developments. Medical and public health
workers, professional societies, educators, and publishers, are either exploring
or already using social media for research, information dissemination and
educational purposes (Djuricich, 2014; Frosch et al., 2011). Online social
networking rapidly expands its reach to health consumers, patients, and
advocates. Unfortunately many websites can also contain misleading informa-
tion (Phillips, Wang, & Guenzel, 2005). Thus, health literacy is becoming an
important asset to promote health safety while navigating social media
“health” networks, in interpreting, understanding, and analyzing the informa-
tion, and effectively participating in advocacy programs. While access to
social media has dramatically increased, the same is not true for health
literacy. Socioeconomic disparities affect health literacy in developed economy
countries (Champlin & Mackert, 2015; Chesser, Burke, Reyes, & Rohrberg,
2015), while the information from developing countries is sparse or nonexis-
tent. Health literacy, especially underpinned by evidence, is a scarce
commodity, but when used effectively can lead to benef‌icial outcomes.
Smoking cessation; HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment; and, more recently,
political actions taken by the European Union (EU) and the Unite d States to
combat microbial resistance through comprehensive prevention plans, legisla-
tion, and research, are success stories. In contrast, we still struggle with
inadequate immunization rates for preventable infections worldwide, youth
World Medical & Health Policy, Vol. 7, No. 2, 2015
1948-4682 #2015 Policy Studies Organization
Published by Wiley Periodicals, Inc., 350 Main Street, Malden, MA 02148, USA, and 9600 Garsington Road, Oxford, OX4 2DQ.

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