8 Steps for Developing a Competency-Based Health Literacy Curriculum
Step 1: Select the Competencies
For this example, competencies are taken from the Council on Linkages' Core Competencies for Public Health Professionals. Tier 1 [A] level is for undergraduate public health / health department or community health professionals. Tier 2 [B] is for graduate level degree in public health / mid-career heath department or public health professionals.
Competency: [3A1/B1] Identify and assesses the literacy of populations served (e.g., ability to obtain, interpret, and use health and other information)
Competency: [3A2/B2] Communicates in writing and orally with linguistic and cultural proficiency (e.g., using age-appropriate materials, incorporating images)
Step 2: Define Key Terms
Check and cite definitions.
Literacy / functional Literacy: An individual’s ability to read, write, and speak, and compute and solve problems at levels of proficiency necessary to function on the job and in society, to achieve one’s goals, and develop one’s knowledge and potential (National Literacy Act, 1999).
Health Literacy: The degree to which individuals have the capacity to obtain, process and understand basic health information needed to make appropriate health decisions. (DHHS, 2000); A wide range of skills used by the public and health professionals to find, understand, evaluate, communicate, and use health information to enable people to live healthier lives (Calgary Charter, 2009).
Communicates in writing and orally (using plain language): Plain language is a strategy for making written and oral information easier to understand. It is one important tool for improving health literacy. Key elements of Plain Language include organizing information so that the most important points come first; breaking complex information into understandable chunks; using simple language and defining technical terms; and using the active voice. (Office of Communications and Public Liaison)
Linguistically and culturally proficient/competency: A set of congruent behaviors, attitudes, and policies that come together in a system, agency, or among professionals that enables effective work in cross-cultural situations. Culture refers to integrated patterns of human behavior that include the language, thoughts, communications, actions, customs, beliefs, values, and institutions of racial, ethnic, religious, or social groups. Competence implies having the capacity to function effectively as an individual and an organization within the context of the cultural beliefs, behaviors, and needs presented by consumers and their communities (Cross, T., Bazron, B., Dennis K., & Isaacs, M., 1989).
Step 3: Define Target Audience
Interprofessional groups of health professions students including public health (e.g. communication, policy, global, and other) and healthcare (e.g., medical, dental, nursing, administration, physician assistant, allied health, pharmacy, and other).
Step 4: Separate the Sub-competencies
Competency: Assesses the literacy of populations served (e.g., ability to obtain, interpret, and use health and other information).
Sub competencies: If learners are to assess the literacy of populations served (e.g., ability to obtain, interpret, and use health and other information), they will have to be competent to:
- Access population based literacy and health literacy data
- Describe limitations of available health literacy assessment tools
Competency: Communicates in writing and orally with linguistic and cultural proficiency (e.g., using age-appropriate materials, incorporating images)
Sub-competencies: If learners are to communicate in writing and orally with linguistic and cultural proficiency (e.g. using age-appropriate materials, incorporating images) they will have to be competent to:
- Apply plain language writing and design principles
- Avoid jargon and check for understanding
- Address language needs
- Recognize cultural differences
Step 5: Develop Learning Objectives
|Assess the literacy of populations served
||Access population based literacy and health literacy data
- Define literacy / health Literacy
- Recognize literacy demands in health and health care
- Cite link between literacy / health literacy and health outcomes
- Name population based literacy / health literacy data sources
||Describe limitations of available health literacy assessment tools
- Name health literacy assessment tools
- Recognize how the complexity of information and health system influence health literacy
|Communicate in writing and orally with linguistic and cultural proficiency
Apply plain language writing and design principles
- Define plain language
- Apply plain language writing principles
- Apply plain language design principles
Avoid jargon and check for understanding
- Avoid jargon
- Use living room language
- Construct open ended questions
- Avoid stigmatization
- Practice teach back
Address language needs
- Describe the Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Services (CLAS) Standards
- Name language access interventions
- Define interpreter and translator
- Describe approaches to interpreting
- Describe approaches to translation
Recognize cultural differences
- Describe link between culture, language and literacy
- Recognize the culture of health care
- Define the role of a cultural broker
Step 6: Select Evaluation Procedures
Step 7: Identify Relevant Key Content (Recommended Resources)
Step 8: Plan the Learning Experiences (Teaching Tools)
Award and project made possible with support from the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion (ODPHP), Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Cooperative Agreement #5 ATPHP120007-03-00.