Guest Post from Diana Almader-Douglas: Raising Awareness about the Importance of Culture on Health Literacy for Librarians

This isn’t something i’ve done before, but one of my fellow colleagues – Diana Almader-Douglas, has spent the last 6+ months updating some excellent resources on culture and health literacy at the National Library of Medicine. Diana is incredibly knowledgeable about these issues, and has asked if I would be willing to let her write a short post on my blog. You can read the post in its entirety below, and it is full of useful information about this issue – especially for health sciences librarians. I will make a disclaimer that this post is more focused on issues in the US, but I think that issues surrounding culture and health literacy presented here are applicable to Canada as well. Enjoy!

Diana Almader-Douglas:

Through a National Library of Medicine Associate Fellowship Project, I evaluated and enhanced the National Network of Libraries of Medicine’s (NN/LM) Health Literacy resource by adding content and resources related to culture in the context of health literacy.

By providing information about the relationship between culture and health literacy, the highly-utilized resource has the ability to impact a wider audience by encouraging the dissemination of culturally relevant health information by librarians and information professionals.

Through this project, I aimed to raise awareness about vulnerable and special populations while highlighting the connection to health disparities and health literacy.

Culture is one component of health literacy, but it is also a critical element of the complex topic of health literacy. Culture shapes communication, beliefs, and the comprehension of health information.  By enhancing the NN/LM Health Literacy Web page with content about health literacy in a cultural context, users of the page, and end users will be able to better meet the health information needs of vulnerable and diverse population groups they are serving. 

For more information about culture and health literacy, visit:

Benjamin RM. Improving Health by Improving Health Literacy. Public Health Rep. 2010, Nov-Dec; 125(6):784-785. Available from:

United States Department of Health & Human Services. Health Resources and Services Administration (HSRA). Culture, Language and Health Literacy. Available from:

United States Department of Health & Human Services. National Library of Medicine Specialized Information Services Outreach Activities & Resources.Multi-cultural Resources for Health Information. Available from:

Thanks for reading. I hope health sciences librarians will find this information to be useful. Just to add a bit of Canadian content, I have included some Canadian health literacy resources below – many of which could use the cultural focus that Diana has implemented for the NNLM:

Canadian Public Health Association Health Literacy Portal:

Canadian Council on Learning. Health Literacy in Canada: A Healthy Understanding:

Health Literacy Council of Canada:

Public Health Agency of Canada:

Podcast on Health Literacy and Cultural Competence. Centre for Literacy: 


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