Australian Health Review Australian Health Review Society
Journal of the Australian Healthcare & Hospitals Association
RESEARCH ARTICLE

Key lessons for designing health literacy professional development courses

Lucio Naccarella A C and Bernice Murphy B
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A Centre for Health Policy, Melbourne School of Population and Global Health, The University of Melbourne, 207 Bouverie Street, Carlton, Vic. 3053, Australia.

B Centre for Culture, Ethnicity and Health. 23 Lennox Street, Richmond, Vic. 3121, Australia. Email: bernicem@ceh.org.au

C Corresponding author. Email: l.naccarella@unimelb.edu.au

Australian Health Review - https://doi.org/10.1071/AH17049
Submitted: 24 February 2017  Accepted: 28 September 2017   Published online: 2 November 2017

Abstract

Health literacy courses for health professionals have emerged in response to health professionals’ perceived lack of understanding of health literacy issues, and their failure to routinely adopt health literacy practices. Since 2013 in Victoria, Australia, the Centre for Culture, Ethnicity and Health has delivered an annual health literacy demonstration training course that it developed. Course development and delivery partners included HealthWest Partnership and cohealth. The courses are designed to develop the health literacy knowledge, skills and organisational capacity of the health and community services sector in the western metropolitan region of Melbourne. This study presents key learnings from evaluation data from three health literacy courses using Wenger’s professional educational learning design framework. The framework has three educational learning architecture components (engagement, imagination and alignment) and four educational learning architecture dimensions (participation, emergent, local/global, identification). Participatory realist evaluation approaches and qualitative methods were used. The evaluations revealed that the health literacy courses are developing leadership in health literacy, building partnerships among course participants, developing health literacy workforce knowledge and skills, developing ways to use and apply health literacy resources and are serving as a catalyst for building organisational infrastructure. Although the courses were not explicitly developed or implemented using Wenger’s educational learning design pedagogic features, the course structure (i.e. facilitation role of course coordinators, providing safe learning environments, encouraging small group work amongst participants, requiring participants to conduct mini-projects and sponsor organisation buy-in) provided opportunities for engagement, imagination and alignment. Wenger’s educational learning design framework can inform the design of future key pedagogic features of health literacy courses.

What is known about the topic? Health professionals are increasingly participating in health literacy professional development courses.

What does this paper add? This paper provides key lessons for designing health literacy professional development courses by reflecting upon Wenger’s professional educational learning design framework.

What are the implications for practitioners? To ensure health professionals are receiving evidence-informed health literacy professional education, we encourage future health literacy courses be designed, implemented and evaluated using existing professional educational learning design frameworks.

Additional keyword: education.


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