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Can J Diet Pract Res. 2013 Spring;74(1):37-41.

Promoting eHealth literacy in older adults: key informant perspectives.

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School of Nutrition, Ryerson University, Toronto, ON.


Health literacy has the potential to improve an individual's capacity to access, understand, evaluate, and communicate basic health information and services in order to make appropriate health decisions. We developed a research agenda to help older adults become aware of health literacy and its function in promoting their nutritional health and well-being. A key activity is the development, implementation, and evaluation of an eHealth literacy tool, eSEARCH, targeted at older adults to help improve their eHealth literacy skills. Before consultations were held with this subpopulation to assess their eHealth literacy needs and abilities, key informant interviews were conducted with eight experts in the field of health literacy, the older adult population, and/or online communications. Some experts were identified from the relevant literature; others were identified by informants who had already been interviewed. Informants were asked nine questions about the perceived importance of health literacy in Canada, key considerations in developing an eHealth literacy tool, and supporting resources for advancement of the eHealth literacy tool. Informants agreed that health literacy is a key concept and stressed that key considerations for development of the eSEARCH tool are identifying the target population's needs, focusing on health promotion, and increasing confidence in information-seeking behaviours. Identified challenges are ensuring accessibility, applicability to older adults, and adoption of the tool by dietetic and other health care professionals.

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