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Scand J Occup Ther. 2012 Jul;19(4):305-14. doi: 10.3109/11038128.2011.588724. Epub 2011 Jun 27.

Integrating health literacy into occupational therapy: findings from a scoping review.

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School of Rehabilitation, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Université de Sherbrooke, Sherbrooke, Québec, Canada.


This paper aims to report ways of integrating health literacy into occupational therapy practice. Health literacy is defined as the ability to access, understand, evaluate, and communicate information as a way to promote, maintain, and improve health in various settings over the life-course. A scoping study of the scientific and grey literature on health and, specifically, occupational therapy and health promotion was done from 1980 to May 2010. Five databases were searched by combining key words (i) "health literacy" with (ii) "rehabilitation", "occupational therapy", or "health promotion". Data were extracted from 44 documents: five textbooks, nine reports, and 29 articles. The literature on health literacy needs enhancing in both quantity and quality. Nevertheless, six ways of integrating health literacy into occupational therapy practice were identified (frequency; %): occupational therapists should (i) be informed about and recognize health literacy (27; 61.4), (ii) standardize their practice (10; 22.7), (iii) make information accessible (37; 84.1), (iv) interact optimally with clients (26; 59.1), (v) intervene (29; 65.9) and (vi) collaborate to increase health literacy (21; 47.7). Since health literacy can directly impact on intervention efficacy, further studies are needed on how to integrate health literacy into occupational therapy practice.

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