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Clinical, Classroom or Personal Education: Attitudes About Health Literacy
Purpose: This study explores how diverse attitudes about health literacy are assessed by medical librarians and other health care professionals. Procedures: An online survey of thirty-six items was conducted using Q methodology in two phases in spring 2005 and winter 2006. Respondents (n = 51) were nonrandomly self-selected from a convenience sample of members of the Medical Library Association and a group of environmental health consultants to the National Library of Medicine. Findings: Three factors were identified. Factor 1 is optimistic and supportive of health literacy's transformative sociocultural and professional potential, if clinical settings become a launching point for health literacy activities. Factor 2 is less optimistic about health literacy's potential to improve clinical or patient outcomes and prefers to focus health literacy initiatives on classroom education settings. Factor 3 supports improving the nation's health literacy but tends to support health literacy initiatives when people privately interact with health information materials. Conclusions: Each factor's attitudes about the appropriate educational venue to initiate health literacy activities are different and somewhat mutually exclusive. This suggests that health literacy is seen through different perceptual frameworks that represent a possible source of professional disagreement.