Canadian Activities in
the Health and Literacy Area
Canada has been recognized internationally for its
research and other activities in the health and literacy area. Following are
examples of some of the activities which have been undertaken in Canada:
Literacy and Health Project Phase One: Research
Report (1990), authored by Burt Perrin and sponsored by the Ontario Public
Health Association and Frontier College. This study clearly identified the
impact of literacy on health and presents evidence about the reasons for this
link. The methods used in this study included: a review of data from a number
of major national, provincial and other health status surveys, a comprehensive,
multi-disciplinary review of published and unpublished literature, a brief
survey to health and literacy organizations across Ontario, three case studies,
and a number of key informant interviews. This study has been cited extensively
in Canada and internationally.
The above research study was the first component of an
extensive Literacy and Health Project sponsored by the above two organizations.
Other activities of the project included: spreading the word about the
relationship between literacy and health and the need for action, fostering
working partnerships between literacy and health groups, assisting with a
number of specific projects and activities, and the creation of a clearinghouse
of literacy and health information.
Major health status surveys, including national surveys such
as the National Population Health Survey (1994-95) and Health Promotion Surveys
(1990 and 1985), as well as Ontario, Quebec and other surveys which have data
permitting identification of links between education and a wide variety of
The National Literacy and Health Program of CPHA works in
partnership with 26 national health associations to raise awareness among
health professionals about the links between literacy and health. Its
activities also include the development of various resources, such as
information promoting the use of plain language, and practical resources for
health providers, e.g. an easy-to-use seniors guide providing practical
strategies for working with seniors with low literacy.