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Finding Trusted Information :Health Information Week 2020

We all need information that we can trust, particularly in this time of coronavirus.

The Institute for Public Policy Research (IPPR), a UK-based thinktank, published a report in early June 2020 entitled Prevention in the age of information: Public education for better health.

The report advocates a shift from health interventions that blame and punish people towards ones that empathise and assist instead. It highlights the importance of going beyond information-sharing in public health education by supporting the development of health literacy skills and patient activation.

Health literacy skills equip people to navigate the complex health systems of modern society. These skills include information appraisal (e.g. identifying fake health news), understanding the social determinants of health (e.g. living conditions or the local food landscape) and taking action (e.g. writing to a local newspaper about a lack of public toilets in the area).

Health literacy skills have been shown to potentially support improved health outcomes at all stages of life.

Patient activation overlaps health literacy. It focuses not just on the ability of people to understand health information but their motivation and confidence to apply that information (e.g. for informed decision-making). It also recognises the role of empowerment: of giving people the tools to communicate what they need and want in terms of their health and that of the communities in which they live.

The report finds growing evidence that even if people are accessing more information in their daily lives today, not everyone is enabled to act on this information. Knowing what is best for your health is different to having the agency and social support necessary to follow through on that knowledge.

This is a particular challenge among those facing social disadvantage (who may also have limited health literacy). The consequences are that it is the most well-off people who tend to take full advantage of public health education efforts, rather than the most vulnerable.

This HIW 2020 we encourage everyone to share quality information resources that can help build health literacy and wellbeing. Technology has created opportunities to reach out to wider audiences, but the digital divide means that there are still barriers in the way of every member of society gaining access.

Active signposting to the following resources might help:

  • Learn My Way – an introductory course to using the internet to improve health, with modules on accessing GP services online and using the NHS website.
  • TikTok account for the World Health Organization (WHO) – a collection of health-related videos designed to appeal to young people and combat the spread of misinformation.

Other useful resources to support “Finding Trusted Health Information”.

Downloadable resources

Useful website links



Adapted from

Last updated: 15 July, 2020

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