What Are Adolescents Perceptions of Health Literacy

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“What are Adolescents Perceptions of Health Literacy?”
A Review of the article “Early Adolescents Perceptions of Health and Health Literacy” Carrie Virgil
Gillette College

What are Adolescents Perceptions of Health Literacy?
Understanding health literacy has proven to be an important aspect of educating adolescents on the importance of their health. Health literacy is defined as, “The degree to which individuals have the capacity to obtain, process, and understand basic health information and services needed to make appropriate health decisions”( US Department of Health and Human Services (2010). Research by Brown, Teufal, and Birch (2007) has been done to look at how adolescents obtain information on health, how they understand health literature, and how the adolescents understanding of health literature affects their health choices in the future. The research also looked at the problem of adolescents not understanding literature on health and the problem of obtaining inaccurate information from unreliable sources. Article Summary

Brown, Teufel, and Birch (2007) obtained data from 1178 adolescents from the ages of 9-13 years. These students were in health programs of some type in 11 different schools. The girls and boys were selected from different income and ethnic backgrounds. The study looked at the following: 1. Where did the children obtain health information?

2. Who did the children obtain information from?
3. How healthy did they considered themselves?
4. Were they interested and motivated in health matters?
5. Did they understand the information they obtained?
6. Where would they go first if they had health related questions? 7. Would interest in health at a young age affect adult health choices? The results showed that 90% of the adolescents felt they were very healthy, 25% had no interest in health education, and 75% felt they could understand health information. School and the internet were the primary places the students obtained health information; only one third of the students would go to their parents for a health related question. The primary problems discovered were the kids getting inaccurate information from the internet and not being motivated to make healthy choices (Brown, Teufel, & Birch 2007). Discussion

Adolescence is a time when youth go through many transitions physically and mentally. Adolescence is a critical time when habits and skills are developed that will carry on into adulthood.The behavioral patterns established during these developmental periods help determine young people's current health status and their risk for developing chronic diseases in adulthood (Lawrence, Gootman, and Sims 2009).

Brown, Teufel, and Birch (2007) concentrated on the ability to understand health literature and to understand that actions taken in youth affect health later in life. The adolescent’s ability to understand health literature has a significant impact on their motivation to follow the information the students learned. Students that found health literature difficult to understand were less likely to be interested in what they were taught. The students, whom do not understand health information and do not believe that health choices are affected in adulthood, have little concern or motivation to practice healthy behaviors Brown, Teufel, & Birch (2007).

Mulye, Park, Nelson, et al. (2009) state that early health intervention and health influences shape future healthy lifestyles. Adolescence is a time when there are great outside influences on health choices. The research showed that students agreed that much of the information they receive from the internet and television is false or misleading. The study revealed that the older adolescents are more likely to receive health information from the internet or TV.

Medical professionals were also reported to be one of the main sources that adolescents obtain health information from. Nurses can play...
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