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Center for Health Literacy Promotion Blog

Health Literacy and Context: Notes from WUN* Meeting

*Worldwide Universities Health Literacy Network 5.19-21, Southampton, England
I’m sharing my notes from multiple 3-to15-minute presentations by internationally recognized health literacy researchers and practitioners and noisy, high energy commentary.  Context and complexity were themes.
Look at context, not as background noise, but as the active structure of what is happening. Cultural, political, and power relationships define how an intervention operates. Ask, What is the active role of context?
Context matters. Collectivities matter. Understanding of context is about hierarchies  and nesting. It’s about families, communities and groups and power relationships.
Health literacy and its relationship to non-communicable disease and inequity is a difficult theme an we are working in a querulous age--the Euro Zone crisis, falling social support. The social determinants of health are in flux. Money, power, place of residence, ethics all are involved.
Policy whirls in the waters of context and particularity. Ignore this and you drown.
Listen to gaps and silences.
This is wicked science. It is post-normal, complex, uncertain, urgent and of high public interest. Decisions will be made by policymakers.  [Check out “Wicked Problems and Social Complexity” by Jeff Conklin]
“Some problems [like health literacy] are so complex that you have to be highly intelligent and well informed just to be undecided about them” LJ Peter
Poverty is complex, prevalent, powerful, destructive. And often set aside.
Let’s denormalize inequity. Why do we accept that it is just the way it is? it is not enough to simply reduce the burden of disease. We must address inequities.
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