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Table 2 Definitions of children’s and young people’s health literacy

From: Health literacy in childhood and youth: a systematic review of definitions and models

Children & Primary School Students
A Fok & Wong [17] The meaning of health literacy to children is defined as “to understand and act upon physical and psycho-social activities with appropriate standards, being able to interact with people and cope with necessary changes and; demands reasonable autonomy so as to achieve complete physical, mental and social well-being.
B Brown et al. [32] “For this study, health literacy was defined simply as the ability to understand health information and to understand that actions taken in youth affect health later in life, combined with the ability to access valid health information.”
Young people & Secondary School Students
C Massey et al. [33] “We take an expanded perspective of health literacy and define it as a set of skills used to organize and apply health knowledge, attitudes and practices relevant when managing one’s health environment.”
D Paakkari & Paakkari [8] “Health Literacy is defined in the following terms: Health literacy comprises a broad range of knowledge and competencies that people seek to encompass, evaluate, construct and use. Through health literacy competencies people become able to understand themselves, others and the world in a way that will enable them to make sound health decisions, and to work on and change the factors that constitute their own and others’ health chances.”
E Wu et al. [18] “Health literate individuals are able to understand and apply health information in ways that allow them to take more control over their health through, for example, appraising the credibility, accuracy and relevance of information and acting on that information to change their health behaviours or living conditions.”
F Gordon et al. [19] “Health Literacy is the degree to which individuals have the capacity to obtain, access, process, and understand basic health information and services needed to take appropriate health decisions and involves an ongoing process of building individual and community capacity to understand the components of health.”
Different age groups or considering a life course perspective
G Borzekowski [1] “Health literacy is not just the ability to read, rather, it is a set of skills that involve recognizing, processing, integrating, and acting on information from a variety of platforms. Those between the ages of 3 and 18 can seek, comprehend, evaluate, and use health information, especially if materials are presented in ways that are age appropriate, culturally relevant, and socially supported. The development of health literacy among children and young people can empower this vulnerable and “marginalized” group to be more engaged, more productive, and healthier.”
H Soellner et al. [36] [Translated] The working definition defines health competences (Gesundheitskompetenz) as an accumulation of skills and capabilities that someone has at one’s command to be able to act in daily life and in dealing with the health system, in such a ways that positively affect one’s health and well-being.
I Mancuso [34] “A process that evolves over one’s lifetime and encompasses the attributes of capacity, comprehension, and communication. The attributes of health literacy are integrated within and preceded by the skills, strategies, and abilities embedded within the competencies needed to attain health literacy. The outcomes of health literacy are dependent upon whether one has achieved adequate or inadequate health literacy and have the potential to influence individuals and society.”
J Nutbeam [35] “The personal, cognitive and social skills which determine the ability of individuals to gain access to, understand, and use information to promote and maintain good health”
K Sørensen et al. [10] “Health literacy is linked to literacy and entails people’s knowledge, motivation and competences to access, understand, appraise, and apply health information in order to make judgments and take decisions in everyday life concerning healthcare, disease prevention and health promotion to maintain or improve quality of life during the life course.”
L Zarcadoolas, Pleasant & Greer [20] “Health literacy evolves over one’s life course, starting at an early age, and, like most complex human competencies, is impacted by health status as well as demographic, socio-political, psychosocial and cultural factors.” “We define health literacy as the wide range of skills, and competencies that people develop to seek out, comprehend, evaluate and use health information and concepts to make informed choices, reduce health risks and increase quality of life.”