For the March 2021 survey, we asked Rural Voice Information Panel (Rural VIP) members about the resources they use when seeking health-care information, their satisfaction with these resources, and the impact of these resources on their health literacy.
The Canadian Public Health Association defines health literacy as “the ability to access, comprehend, evaluate, and communicate information as a way to promote, maintain and improve health in a variety of settings across the life-course.”
This type of literacy is important because informed individuals are better able and more likely to take control of their health and confidently make health-related decisions.
When faced with a health-care decision, survey respondents were most likely to seek information from their primary care provider, followed by other health professionals, and family and friends. Respondents were least likely to seek information from online blogs, by calling Health Link, or by consulting the brochures available in clinics and hospitals.
Most respondents trusted the resources they used and could find enough information to make an informed decision regarding their health; however, most respondents have also indicated that the resources they use include information gaps, and that there is often conflicting information between resources.
Nearly all respondents indicated that they feel prepared (96 per cent) and confident (98 per cent) when making decisions about their health, suggesting a high degree of health literacy amongst Rural VIP members.
The high degree of health literacy among Rural VIP members is perhaps not surprising, as they indicated that they know where and how to access material they trust when making decisions about their health as a result of being active in health care and health workforce attraction and retention.
In order to improve the health literacy of rural Albertans, RhPAP is developing the online education platform RhPAP U. Scheduled to launch in late Spring 2021, RhPAP U is a one-stop resource for trusted and accurate rural health-care information. RhPAP U is designed to inform the attraction and retention of qualified health professionals in rural areas and to empower rural Albertans to advocate for their personal health-care needs and the needs of their communities.
Each month, RhPAP shares learnings and feedback with Alberta Health and the RhPAP Board of Directors, who represent the following organizations: Alberta Health Services, the Alberta Medical Association, the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta, Rural Municipalities of Alberta, and the College and Association of Registered Nurses of Alberta. We may also share this information with other relevant health professional organizations for their consideration.