Skip to main content

Defining Environmental Health Literacy

Abstract

Environmental health literacy (EHL) is an emerging area of study that incorporates content and strategies from environmental, health, and social sciences to promote understanding of the ways environmental contaminants affect health. The basic knowledge and skills needed for comprehending environmental health risks and for devising, assessing, implementing and evaluating potential solutions form the foundations of EHL. EHL strives to improve understanding of how individuals and communities make sense of and act on health-related information about environmental hazards. In this chapter, the concept of EHL and its background are introduced, and foundational contributions from health, risk, and participatory communication are discussed.

Keywords

  • Environmental health literacy
  • Health literacy
  • Health communication
  • Dissemination
  • Risk communication
  • Participatory research
  • Environmental health sciences
  • Community engagement
  • Research translation
  • Risk perception

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Buying options

Chapter
USD   29.95
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • DOI: 10.1007/978-3-319-94108-0_1
  • Chapter length: 16 pages
  • Instant PDF download
  • Readable on all devices
  • Own it forever
  • Exclusive offer for individuals only
  • Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout
eBook
USD   119.00
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • ISBN: 978-3-319-94108-0
  • Instant PDF download
  • Readable on all devices
  • Own it forever
  • Exclusive offer for individuals only
  • Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout
Softcover Book
USD   159.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
Hardcover Book
USD   159.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)

References

  • Ajzen, I. (1991). The theory of planned behavior. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 50(2), 179–211.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Altin, S. V., Finke, I., Kautz-Freimuth, S., & Stock, S. (2014). The evolution of health literacy assessment tools: A systematic review. BMC Public Health, 14(1), 1207.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Anyaegbunam, C., Mefalopulos, P., & Moetsabi, T. (2004). Participatory rural communication appraisal: A handbook for rural development practitioners (2nd ed.). Rome: UN FAO.

    Google Scholar 

  • Anyaegbunam, C., Hoover, A. G., & Schwartz, M. (2010). Use of community-based participatory communication to identify community values at a Superfund site. Providence: American Society of Civil Engineers Annual Meeting.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Bandura, A. (1977). Self-efficacy: Toward a unifying theory of behavioral change. Psychological Review, 84, 191–215.

    CAS  CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Baur, C. (2010). New directions in research on public health and health literacy. Journal of Health Communication, 15(S2), 42–50.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Becker, S. J. (2015). Direct-to-consumer marketing: A complementary approach to traditional dissemination and implementation efforts for mental health and substance abuse interventions. Clinical Psychology: Science and Practice, 22(1), 85–100.

    Google Scholar 

  • Beeker, C., Guenther-Grey, C., & Raj, A. (1998). Community empowerment paradigm drift and the primary prevention of HIV/AIDS. Social Science & Medicine, 46(7), 831–842.

    CAS  CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Benjamin, R. M. (2010). Improving health by improving health literacy. Public Health Reports, 125(6), 784.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Berkman, N. D., Davis, T. C., & McCormack, L. (2010). Health literacy: What is it? Journal of Health Communication, 15(S2), 9–19.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Bettinghaus, E. P. (1986). Health promotion and the knowledge-attitude-behavior continuum. Preventive Medicine, 15(5), 475–491.

    CAS  CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Brownson, R. C., Eyler, A. A., Harris, J. K., Moore, J. B., & Tabak, R. G. (2018). Getting the word out: New approaches for disseminating public health science. Journal of Public Health Management and Practice, 24(2), 102–111.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Chinn, D. (2011). Critical health literacy: A review and critical analysis. Social Science & Medicine, 73(1), 60–67.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Cleary, E. G., Patton, A. P., Wu, H. C., Xie, A., Stubblefield, J., Mass, W., Grinstein, G., Koch-Weser, S., Brugge, D., & Wong, C. (2017). Making air pollution visible: A tool for promoting environmental health literacy. JMIR Public Health and Surveillance, 3(2), e16.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Colucci-Gray, L., Camino, E., Barbiero, G., & Gray, D. (2006). From scientific literacy to sustainability literacy: An ecological framework for education. Science Education, 90(2), 227–252.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Covello, V. T., & Allen, F. W. (1994). Seven cardinal rules of risk communication. Washington, D.C: US Environmental Protection Agency.

    Google Scholar 

  • Covello, V., & Sandman, P. M. (2001). Risk communication: Evolution and revolution. In Solutions to an environment in peril (pp. 164–178).

    Google Scholar 

  • Finn, S., & O’Fallon, L. (2017). The emergence of environmental health literacy—From its roots to its future potential. Environmental Health Perspectives, 125(4), 495–501. https://doi.org/10.1289/ehp.1409337.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Fischhoff, B. (1995). Risk perception and communication unplugged: Twenty years of process. Risk Analysis, 15(2), 137–145.

    CAS  CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Fishbein, M. (1979). A theory of reasoned action: Some applications and implications. In Nebraska symposium on motivation (Vol. 27, pp. 65–116).

    Google Scholar 

  • Freimuth, V. S., & Quinn, S. C. (2004). The contributions of health communication to eliminating health disparities. American Journal of Public Health, 94(12), 2053–2055.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Freire, P. (1996). Pedagogy of the oppressed (Rev ed.). New York: Continuum.

    Google Scholar 

  • Healthy People 2020 [Internet]. Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion [cited 17 July 2017]. Available from: https://www.healthypeople.gov/2020/topics-objectives/topic/health-communication-and-health-information-technology

  • Heath, R. L., & O’Hair, H. D. (2010). The significance of risk and crisis communication. In R. L. Heath & H. D. O’Hair (Eds.), The handbook of risk and crisis communication. New York: Routledge.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Hoover, A. G. (2013). Communication at superfund sites and the reification of division: Toward a convergence-building model of risk communication. University of Kentucky.

    Google Scholar 

  • Hoover, A. G. (2017). Sensemaking, stakeholder discord, and long-term risk communication at a US superfund site. Reviews on Environmental Health, 32(1–2), 165–169.

    CAS  Google Scholar 

  • Hoover, E., Renauld, M., Edelstein, M. R., & Brown, P. (2015). Social science collaboration with environmental health. Environmental Health Perspectives, 123(11), 1100–1106.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Horlick-Jones, T., & Farre, J. (2010). On the communicative constitution of risk objects in mediated times. Catalan Journal of Communication & Cultural Studies, 2(2), 131–143.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Hu, H. (1994). Decision-making in human health impact assessments: A clinician’s perspective. Environmental Impact Assessment Review, 14(5–6), 439–450.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Huber, J. T., Shapiro, R. M., & Gillaspy, M. L. (2012). Top down versus bottom up: The social construction of the health literacy movement. The Library Quarterly, 82(4), 429–451.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Institute of Medicine. (2004). In D. A. Kindig, A. M. Panzer, & L. Nielsen-Bohlman (Eds.), Health literacy: a prescription to end confusion. Washington, DC: National Academies Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Israel, B. A., Schulz, A. J., Parker, E. A., & Becker, A. B. (1998). Review of community-based research: Assessing partnership approaches to improve public health. Annual Review of Public Health, 19(1), 173–202.

    CAS  CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Israel, B. A., Schulz, A. J., Parker, E. A., & Becker, A. B. (2001). Community-based participatory research: Policy recommendations for promoting a partnership approach in health research. Education for Health (Abingdon, England), 14(2), 182–197.

    CAS  CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Kentucky Research Consortium for Energy and the Environment., 2011. Community visions for the Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant site (No. UK/KRCEE doc#: 27.1 2011). Kentucky Research Consortium for Energy and Environment, University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY.

    Google Scholar 

  • Lewin, K. (1946). Action research and minority problems. Journal of Social Issues, 2, 34–46.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Lurie, N., & Parker, R. (2007). Moving health literacy from the individual to the community. American Journal of Health Behavior, 31(1), S6–S7.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • McComas, K. A. (2006). Defining moments in risk communication research: 1996–2005. Journal of Health Communication, 11(1), 75–91.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • National Research Council. (1989). Improving risk communication. Washington, DC: National Academies Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Neta, G., Glasgow, R. E., Carpenter, C. R., Grimshaw, J. M., Rabin, B. A., Fernandez, M. E., & Brownson, R. C. (2015). A framework for enhancing the value of research for dissemination and implementation. American Journal of Public Health, 105(1), 49–57.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Noar, S. M. (2006). A 10-year retrospective of research in health mass media campaigns: Where do we go from here? Journal of Health Communication, 11(1), 21–42.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Noar, S. M., Benac, C. N., & Harris, M. S. (2007). Does tailoring matter? Meta-analytic review of tailored print health behavior change interventions. Psychological Bulletin, 133(4), 673–693.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Nutbeam, D. (2000). Health literacy as a public health goal: A challenge for contemporary health education and communication strategies into the 21st century. Health Promotion International, 15(3), 259–267.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Nutbeam, D. (2008). The evolving concept of health literacy. Social Science & Medicine, 67(12), 2072–2078.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • O’Fallon, L. R., & Dearry, A. (2002). Community-based participatory research as a tool to advance environmental health sciences. Environmental Health Perspectives, 110(Suppl 2), 155–159.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Paasche-Orlow, M. K., Parker, R. M., Gazmararian, J. A., Nielsen-Bohlman, L. T., & Rudd, R. R. (2005). The prevalence of limited health literacy. Journal of General Internal Medicine, 20(2), 175–184.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Perrow, C. (1984). Normal accidents. New York: Basic Books.

    Google Scholar 

  • Ramirez-Andreotta, M. D., Brusseau, M. L., Artiola, J. F., Maier, R. M., & Gandolfi, A. J. (2014). Environmental research translation: Enhancing interactions with communities at contaminated sites. Science of the Total Environment, 497, 651–664.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Ramirez-Andreotta, M. D., Brusseau, M. L., Artiola, J., Maier, R. M., & Gandolfi, A. J. (2015). Building a co-created citizen science program with gardeners neighboring a superfund site: The Gardenroots case study. International Public Health Journal, 7(1).

    Google Scholar 

  • Ratzan, S.C. and Parker, R.M., (2000). Introduction. In: National library of medicine current bibliographies in medicine: Health literacy. NLM Pub. No. CBM 2000-1. Selden CR, Zorn M, Ratzan SC, Parker RM, Eds. Bethesda, MD: National Institutes of Health/ U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

    Google Scholar 

  • Reynolds, B. and W. Seeger, M., (2005). Crisis and emergency risk communication as an integrative model. Journal of Health Communication, 10(1), pp.43–55.

    Google Scholar 

  • Rimal, R. N. (2000). Closing the knowledge-behavior gap in health promotion: The mediating role of self-efficacy. Health Communication, 12(3), 219–237.

    CAS  CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Rock, T., Brugge, D., Slagowski, N., Manning, T., & Lewis, J. (2007). Lessons from the Navajo: Assistance with environmental data collection ensures cultural humility and data relevance. Progress in Community Health Partnerships: Research, Education, and Action, 1(4), 321.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Rogers, E. M., & Storey, J. D. (1987). Communication campaigns. In C. R. Berger & S. H. Chaffee (Eds.), Handbook of communication science (pp. 817–846). Beverly Hills: Sage.

    Google Scholar 

  • Rosenstock, I. M. (1974). Historical origins of the health belief model. Health Education Monographs, 2, 328–335.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Rosenstock, I. M., Strecher, V. J., & Becker, M. H. (1988). Social learning theory and the health belief model. Health Education Quarterly, 15(2), 175–183.

    CAS  CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Sandman, P. M. (1993). Responding to community outrage: Strategies for effective risk communication. Fairfax: American Industrial Hygiene Association.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Scammell, M. K., Senier, L., Darrah-Okike, J., Brown, P., & Santos, S. (2009). Tangible evidence, trust and power: Public perceptions of community environmental health studies. Social Science & Medicine, 68(1), 143–153.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Seeger, M. W. (2006). Best practices in crisis communication: An expert panel process. Journal of Applied Communication Research, 34(3), 232–244.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Sellnow, T. L., & Sellnow, D. (2010). The instructional dynamic of risk and crisis communication: Distinguishing instructional messages from dialogue. The Review of Communication, 10(2), 112–126.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Sellnow, T. L., Ulmer, R. R., Seeger, M. W., & Littlefield, R. S. (2009). Effective risk communication: A message-centered approach. New York: Springer Science+Business Media, LLC.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Snyder, L. B. (2007). Health communication campaigns and their impact on behavior. Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior, 39(2), S32–S40.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Snyder, L. B., Hamilton, M. A., Mitchell, E. W., Kiwanuka-Tondo, J., Fleming-Milici, F., & Proctor, D. (2004). A meta-analysis of the effect of mediated health communication campaigns on behavior change in the United States. Journal of Health Communication, 9(S1), 71–96.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Society of Public Health Education. (2007). National health education planning guide. Washington, DC: SOPHE Available at: http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.179.3181&rep=rep1&type=pdf.

    Google Scholar 

  • Sørensen, K., Van den Broucke, S., Fullam, J., Doyle, G., Pelikan, J., Slonska, Z., & Brand, H. (2012). Health literacy and public health: A systematic review and integration of definitions and models. BMC Public Health, 12(1), 80.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Theodore, L., & Kiraz, R. G. (2005). A review of nanotechnology. Nanotechnology Law & Business, 305.

    Google Scholar 

  • Ting-Toomey, S., & Oetzel, J. G. (2002). Cross-cultural face concerns and conflict styles. Handbook of International and Intercultural Communication, 2, 143–164.

    Google Scholar 

  • Wallerstein, N., & Duran, B. (2010). Community-based participatory research contributions to intervention research: The intersection of science and practice to improve health equity. American Journal of Public Health, 100(S1), S40–S46.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Webb, T. L., Joseph, J., Yardley, L., & Michie, S. (2010). Using the internet to promote health behavior change: A systematic review and meta-analysis of the impact of theoretical basis, use of behavior change techniques, and mode of delivery on efficacy. Journal of Medical Internet Research, (1), 12.

    Google Scholar 

  • Weick, K. E. (1988). Enacted sensemaking in crisis situations. Journal of Management Studies, 25(4), 305–317.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Winterbauer, N. L., Bekemeier, B., VanRaemdonck, L., & Hoover, A. G. (2016). Applying community-based participatory research partnership principles to public health practice-based research networks. SAGE Open, 6(4).

    Google Scholar 

  • Witte, K. (1992). Putting the fear back into fear appeals: The extended parallel process model. Communications Monographs, 59(4), 329–349.

    CrossRef  Google Scholar 

  • Witte, K., & Allen, M. (2000). A meta-analysis of fear appeals: Implications for effective public health campaigns. Health Education & Behavior, 27(5), 591–561.

    CAS  CrossRef  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Anna Goodman Hoover .

Editor information

Editors and Affiliations

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

Copyright information

© 2019 The Author(s)

About this chapter

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this chapter

Hoover, A.G. (2019). Defining Environmental Health Literacy. In: Finn, S., O'Fallon, L. (eds) Environmental Health Literacy. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-94108-0_1

Download citation