Defining adolescent health literacy and constructing its indicators from a health promotion perspective

Li Ling Liao, Chieh Hsing Liu*, Shu Fang Shih, Chi Chia Cheng, Tzu Chau Chang

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Research has demonstrated that health literacy significantly affects health status, health inequality, medical expenses, accessibility of medical care, understanding of health information, and decision-making behavior. However, most studies on the topic of health literacy have focused on adults and are based on a medical perspective. This study proposed a definition of health literacy and an ability indicator for adolescents. The target study population were students in their third year of junior and senior high school. Thirty-four teachers, 23 parents, and 85 adolescents were interviewed to collect data concerning the real-life context of adolescents. The collected data and national health education curriculum guildines were used as a reference to develop health literacy definitions and abilities. Eight health education experts and eight senior teachers were invited to conduct a two-round Delphi survey. Based on the 3 types of adolescent health literacy (functional, interactive, and critical health literacy), this study developed health literacy definitions and 56 abilities (10 for the junior high indicator, 18 for the senior high indicator, and 28 for the junior and senior high indicator) covering 10 issues. The definitions and ability indicators in this study were developed on the basis of real-life adolescent contexts and considered Taiwan’s health education guildines. Therefore, the results can serve as a valuable reference for developing health literacy measurement instruments or intervention programs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)25-51
Number of pages27
JournalJournal of Research in Education Sciences
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2019 Mar


  • Adolescent
  • Delphi
  • Health literacy
  • Indicator

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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