FIMS Publications

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Journal of the Canadian Health Libraries Association

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Research questions: What are the current conceptualizations of health literacy, and what strategies are Canadian health librarians in public, academic, and hospital libraries enacting to put health literacy promotion into practice? Data sources: Serving as the basis of this scoping review, library and information science, health sciences, and interdisciplinary databases were searched using key terms relating to health literacy promotion as it relates to services, programming, or resources used in a variety of library settings. A web searched allowed for the inclusion of grey literature sources. Study selection: Data sources were searched using a combination of subject headings and keywords relating to health literacy and librarians or libraries, which served as the inclusion criteria. Sources were also selected for their Canadian context or content and for health literacy promotion programs or services that took place in academic, public, or hospital library settings. Data extraction: Data sources included journal articles, government publications, library association reports, dissertations, grey literature, reviews, and newspaper articles. Data were extracted from selected Canadian data sources, identifying the type of library in which health literacy promotion-related programs were situated, the program's scope, topics covered, and the resources used or developed. Results: The established link between low health literacy and poor health outcomes allows librarians to play an active role in promoting the quality of life of their patrons. Summaries from research articles and publications from library associations provide descriptions of health literacy promotion efforts in public libraries, followed by an examination of the role librarians play in promoting health literacy skills or knowledge in academic and hospital libraries. Conclusion: Analyses of recent health literacy initiatives and programming, including educational programs, electronic or web resources, and cross-discipline committees reveal the diversity of innovative tactics implemented by librarians to promote health literacy. Health literacy awareness is a tool all librarians can incorporate into their interactions with patrons. Current barriers and sources for future inquiry surrounding health literacy promotion in libraries highlight the need for librarians to promote their skill set as a means to gain inclusion as key players in national action plans concerning health literacy promotion.

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