Panel on Health Literacy in Public Health Practice: Examples from the Field

From left to right: Cynthia C. Peña, MPH, MSW, Steve Sparks, Bonnie Braun, PhD, Cynthia Baur, PhD (Moderator)

From left to right: Cynthia C. Peña, MPH, MSW, Steve Sparks, Bonnie Braun, PhD, Cynthia Baur, PhD (Moderator)

Panel members spoke about using health literacy in public health contexts. They talked about three successful education programs.

Cynthia Peña talked about a program called Sweet Success. It was developed by the California Diabetes and Pregnancy Program (CDAPP). The program’s goal was to train providers and patients in the area of gestational diabetes. It promoted the best ways to manage diabetes before, during, and after pregnancy, Peña said.

Steve Sparks talked about Health Literacy Wisconsin’s flu program. It was called Let’s Talk about the Flu. The program offered workshops in partnership with trusted organizations. It included a plain-language workbook, a flu prevention kit, and vouchers or access to free vaccines. “We were able to reach people who really needed that shot, and wouldn’t have done it without a little encouragement,” Sparks said.

Bonnie Braun talked about the Smart Choice Health Insurance program. The University of Maryland developed it. The developers made changes based on input from the intended audience. For example, they integrated definitions into text and used a spread layout, she said. Braun noted that buying insurance is confusing for everyone — not just for people with limited health literacy.