Librarians’ support in improving health literacy: a systematic literature review
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The last couple of decades health literacy has gained significant momentum among the issues listed as priority within the public health sphere. In addition, the advances of Information and Communications Technology, the adoption of digital technology to perform basic tasks in our daily lives and thus the re-orientation of health care has led to the introduction of e-health literacy and digital health literacy. Hence, different groups of users needs to develop and acquire the additional digital skills and competences to search, retrieve, access and use health information. This study aims to review the literature concerning librarians’ involvement in health literacy that published between 2010 and 2020 using the principles of systematic literature review. Specifically, search terms such as “health literacy,” “information professional/s,” “librarian/s,” and “library” were run on ACM Digital Library, Scopus, Library, Information Science and Technology Abstracts (LISTA), Library and Information Science Abstracts (LISA), Citeseer, Google Scholar, e-prints in Library and Information Science (e-LiS), Digital Library of Information Science and Technology (DLIST), PubMed and Science Direct. The searches were performed during October–November 2020 and were repeated in January–February 2021; and after considering a series of inclusion and exclusion criteria 57 peer-reviewed papers were considered. Six broad areas of interest emerged through a thorough analysis of the identified, relevant literature namely “role of librarians in relation to health literacy development,” “user studies related to health literacy,” “health literacy programs,” “health literacy and LIS education,” “ health literacy initiatives” and “tools used by librarians in health literacy projects.” Main findings showcase that libraries as secure and trusted places can play a key role in developing and promoting health literacy to different groups; new job titles emerge for librarians (consumer health librarian, health information services librarians, health literacy librarian); whereas collaboration is a key element for developing and offering health literacy training programs to diverse group of users as well as the public.
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