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Exploring health perceptions and priorities of South African youth: understanding what matters for health literacy interventions.

Exploring health perceptions and priorities of South African youth: understanding what matters for health literacy interventions.
Exploring health perceptions and priorities of South African youth: understanding what matters for health literacy interventions.
Introduction: health literacy is a key factor underpinning health behaviours and effective use of health information. Optimising health literacy in adolescents and young adults (AYA) is critical as they transition from childhood to adulthood, changing health-related behaviours alongside physical, emotional, and cognitive change. In South African AYA, with unplanned pregnancy common, poor health literacy may impact multiple generations. However, to create culturally and contextually appropriate health literacy interventions, co-development with AYA is essential.

Aim: our aim was to explore health perceptions and priorities of South African AYA as the first stage in the co-development of contextually relevant health literacy intervention design.

Methods: through purposive sampling of youth registered at a youth development centre in Soweto, South Africa, AYA (n=39, 18-25y) were recruited to form an advisory Youth Health Council (YHC). Focus group discussions were recorded for inductive thematic analysis to inform AYA health literacy needs. Health literacy was assessed with the Health Literacy Test for Limited Literacy populations (HELT-LL).

Findings: most AYA (85%) had suboptimal health literacy. Analysis showed that AYA perceived ‘health’ as a complex mix of indicators (physical, emotional, mental, spiritual) that formed a holistic view of health. However, lack of funds and factors inherent in their local environment (food systems, family hierarchy, crime, vandalism, limited healthcare services) frequently challenged beneficial health behaviours. Stress was a common feature in the lives of AYA associated with multiple health domains.

Conclusion: stress-focused health literacy interventions are needed for youth in challenging environments. Understanding the complex constructions and the core tenets of health that young people hold can inform contextually relevant intervention co-creation for improved health literacy as youth transition into adulthood.
Ware, Lisa J.
74860e6c-ac74-44ae-bb62-a7a2032852ba
Mabetha, Khuthala
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Hanson, Mark
1952fad1-abc7-4284-a0bc-a7eb31f70a3f
Godfrey, Keith M.
0931701e-fe2c-44b5-8f0d-ec5c7477a6fd
Woods-Townsend, Kathryn
af927fa3-30b6-47d9-8b4d-4d254b3a7aab
Norris, Shane
1d346f1b-6d5f-4bca-ac87-7589851b75a4
Ware, Lisa J.
74860e6c-ac74-44ae-bb62-a7a2032852ba
Mabetha, Khuthala
6b05becb-751a-4c79-b95f-8413ee0c17b1
Hanson, Mark
1952fad1-abc7-4284-a0bc-a7eb31f70a3f
Godfrey, Keith M.
0931701e-fe2c-44b5-8f0d-ec5c7477a6fd
Woods-Townsend, Kathryn
af927fa3-30b6-47d9-8b4d-4d254b3a7aab
Norris, Shane
1d346f1b-6d5f-4bca-ac87-7589851b75a4

Ware, Lisa J., Mabetha, Khuthala, Hanson, Mark, Godfrey, Keith M., Woods-Townsend, Kathryn and Norris, Shane (2023) Exploring health perceptions and priorities of South African youth: understanding what matters for health literacy interventions. Journal of Health Literacy. (In Press)

Record type: Article

Abstract

Introduction: health literacy is a key factor underpinning health behaviours and effective use of health information. Optimising health literacy in adolescents and young adults (AYA) is critical as they transition from childhood to adulthood, changing health-related behaviours alongside physical, emotional, and cognitive change. In South African AYA, with unplanned pregnancy common, poor health literacy may impact multiple generations. However, to create culturally and contextually appropriate health literacy interventions, co-development with AYA is essential.

Aim: our aim was to explore health perceptions and priorities of South African AYA as the first stage in the co-development of contextually relevant health literacy intervention design.

Methods: through purposive sampling of youth registered at a youth development centre in Soweto, South Africa, AYA (n=39, 18-25y) were recruited to form an advisory Youth Health Council (YHC). Focus group discussions were recorded for inductive thematic analysis to inform AYA health literacy needs. Health literacy was assessed with the Health Literacy Test for Limited Literacy populations (HELT-LL).

Findings: most AYA (85%) had suboptimal health literacy. Analysis showed that AYA perceived ‘health’ as a complex mix of indicators (physical, emotional, mental, spiritual) that formed a holistic view of health. However, lack of funds and factors inherent in their local environment (food systems, family hierarchy, crime, vandalism, limited healthcare services) frequently challenged beneficial health behaviours. Stress was a common feature in the lives of AYA associated with multiple health domains.

Conclusion: stress-focused health literacy interventions are needed for youth in challenging environments. Understanding the complex constructions and the core tenets of health that young people hold can inform contextually relevant intervention co-creation for improved health literacy as youth transition into adulthood.

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Accepted/In Press date: 14 October 2023

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 484198
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/484198
PURE UUID: a8c1f0d2-3ac2-40b7-a646-204a678160ab
ORCID for Mark Hanson: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0002-6907-613X
ORCID for Keith M. Godfrey: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0002-4643-0618
ORCID for Kathryn Woods-Townsend: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0003-3376-6988
ORCID for Shane Norris: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0001-7124-3788

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Date deposited: 13 Nov 2023 17:54
Last modified: 07 Feb 2024 03:02

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Contributors

Author: Lisa J. Ware
Author: Khuthala Mabetha
Author: Mark Hanson ORCID iD
Author: Shane Norris ORCID iD

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