My experience of health literacy

I had a realization the other day that will help with the final sections of my dissertation.

The current, most often cited, definition of health literacy is defined by The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (2004) 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” (p.16). 

Further, Digital Health Literacy, is defined at:

“the ability to seek, find, understand, and appraise health information from electronic sources and apply the knowledge gained to addressing or solving a health problem” (Norman & Skinner, 2008, para. 6).

I had thought that in my dissertation I was looking to redefine health literacy from a patient perspective. I had thought that what I was trying to create was something that might be adopted by others. However, I now realize that I’m not looking at a general definition. I’m looking to figure out what my definition is.

I know that the research I’m doing is interpretive, and in no way am I trying to make generalizations, and yet, I had not internalized that when it came to this definition. I had thought that when I get to writing my discussion chapter that it would all just come together and I’d have this magic definition that would be adopted or something. But that doesn’t make sense. What I will have is my story and my experience of health literacy. It won’t even be a definition – rather it will be an articulation of experience that I somehow abstract into a conceptual framework or something like that.

I’m looking forward to getting to that chapter. I’m currently working on a chapter that looks at my experience of health literacy through the lenses of critical literacy and socio-cultural literacy. Once I’ve done that, I will take everything that I’ve written and analyzed, and somehow bring it all together. That is the part I’m looking forward to – that building of some conceptualization based upon my themes and the different lenses of the story. It is nice to be excited about my dissertation again 🙂

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