Health literacy in the context of child health promotion: a scoping review of conceptualizations and descriptions

Authors Wieke van Boxtel, Katarina Jerković-Ćosić, Linda Schoonmade, Mai Chinapaw
Published in BMC Public Health
Publication date 2024
Research groups Innovations in Preventive Care
Type Article


Background: Increasing health literacy (HL) in children could be an opportunity for a more health literate future generation. The aim of this scoping review is to provide an overview of how HL is conceptualized and described in the context of health promotion in 9–12-year-old children. Methods: A systematic and comprehensive search for ‘health literacy’ and ‘children’ and ‘measure’ was performed in accordance with PRISMA ScR in PubMed, and via Ebsco in CINAHL, APA PsycInfo and ERIC. Two reviewers independently screened titles and abstracts and evaluated full-text publications regarding eligibility. Data was extracted systematically, and the extracted descriptions of HL were analyzed qualitatively using deductive analysis based on previously published HL definitions. Results: The search provided 5,401 original titles, of which 26 eligible publications were included. We found a wide variation of descriptions of learning outcomes as well as competencies for HL. Most HL descriptions could be linked to commonly used definitions of HL in the literature, and some combined several HL dimensions. The descriptions varied between HL dimensions and were not always relevant to health promotion. The educational setting plays a prominent role in HL regarding health promotion. Conclusion: The description of HL is truly diverse and complex encompassing a wide range of topics. We recommend adopting a comprehensive and integrated approach to describe HL dimensions, particularly in the context of health promotion for children. By considering the diverse dimensions of HL and its integration within educational programs, children can learn HL skills and competencies from an early age.

On this publication contributed

Language English
Published in BMC Public Health
Key words health literacy, children, health promotion, learning outcomes, school health
Digital Object Identifier 10.1186/s12889-024-17955-7

Wieke van Boxtel

Wieke van Boxtel | Researcher | Research group Innovations in Preventive Care

Wieke van Boxtel

  • Researcher
  • Research group: Innovations in Preventive Care