It was my great good fortune to attend two International multidisciplinary meetings of Health literacy researchers, practitioners and policy makers sponsored by the Worldwide Universities Network. I have previously reported on the May 2012 meeting at University of Southampton, England. That meeting was dominated by Europeans and characterized by lively debate that fleshed out themes and urgent issues.
The second meeting took place in late November 2013 at University of Sydney. The location attracted the Australian experts and was notably influenced by the routine participation of consumer representatives in healthcare, research, policy making, and fittingly in this meeting. I was glad to reconnect with a number of researchers I met in Southampton.
Our purpose in Sydney was to formulate international collaborative projects. The group of about 25 divided itself by interest area using themes that emerged from the first meeting. Noting that project groups were forming around research questions related to measurement, medical education, and disease-specific questions, I proposed "health promotion approach" as an alternative. That attracted four academics and three consumer reps from Australia and the Netherlands who work with various populations (e.g. Lebanese, Vietnamese, Dutch, Aboriginal). We want to learn who are the "gatekeepers" of health in families and communities; how have they been identified; and how have they been or how could they be engaged to determine what supports individual and collective health literacy. We will necessarily start with a lit review. Stay tuned. And put Bondi Beach, a suburb of Sydney, on your bucket list.