Health literacy and social determinants of health

Debra Flores PhD, Morgan House PhD, John Pearson DHA, Daniel Stuart PhD


Health Literacy and Social Determinants of Health are closely intertwined. Health disparities and inequities, overall health outcomes, understanding health information, and the ability to be fully informed about medical decisions can have long-term consequences. This connection is even more pronounced in rural and underserved urban areas where low health literacy is prevalent. This review seeks to identify correlations between health literacy and social determinants of health. It further proposes to indicate how key constituencies (healthcare organizations, healthcare providers, and patients) can further develop and disseminate health literacy initiatives to improve overall health and wellness. The research team used the Covidence database to screen, review, and extract peer-reviewed research articles for this study. The initial review identified 75 articles based on term harvesting and keyword searches considered relevant to the review. Selection, review, and characterization were performed by three reviewers on a team of four researchers. The articles’ focuses are different regarding the observed impact on literacy concerning certain chronic health conditions, rural versus urban population centers, health education, ethnic and racial differentiation, and other variables. There are notable gaps in the current literature that relate to concrete methodologies to address these concerns.

Keywords: health literacy, health outcomes, rural health, rural population, patient education

Article citation: Flores D, House M, Pearson J, Stuart D. Health literacy and social determinants of health. The Southwest Respiratory and Critical Care Chronicles 2023;11(47):26–32
From: Department of Master of Science in Healthcare Administration (DF, MH, JP), School of Health Professions; Library (DS), Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center, Lubbock, TX
Submitted: 1/25/2023
Accepted: 4/6/2023
Conflicts of interest: none
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