Academic journal article Reference & User Services Quarterly

The Development and Performance Measurements of Educational Programs to Improve Consumer Health Information (CHI) Literacy

Academic journal article Reference & User Services Quarterly

The Development and Performance Measurements of Educational Programs to Improve Consumer Health Information (CHI) Literacy

Article excerpt

Recently, health information has been a focus of attention, and numerous researchers have demonstrated that library users seek Consumer Health Information (CHI) services and health-related education programs. (1)

Health Literacy is defined as an ability to obtain and process basic health information and services to obtain a proper health diagnosis. (2) This definition includes finding information sources on the Internet, searching in online databases such as MedlinePlus and National Library of Medicine, selecting and evaluating reliable CHI sources, searching for up-to-date research information about diseases and disabilities, and obtaining license information for health care providers including medical doctors. (3) Health-related education is vital to improving health literacy, both for librarians and library users. In many countries, including the United States and the United Kingdom, libraries have acknowledged the demand for CHI sources, and developed and provided education programs to satisfy users' demands. Moreover, medical libraries, university libraries, and public libraries have worked together to pursue specialized CHI-related user education.

However, even though studies have shown that public library users' demand for CHI-related services or education programs is relatively high in Korea, (4) Korean libraries have not been providing any systematically developed education programs. Moreover, there has been no cooperation between different types of libraries in Korea to provide CHI service.

The goal of this research is to develop an education program for public librarians and library users and to measure its effectiveness, and, through this, to contribute to promoting CHI programs in libraries. Specifically, the author developed a health information education program, applied it to librarians and library users to measure its effectiveness, and conducted a satisfaction analysis to assure its suitability for librarians and library users. In addition, the author developed a website to support this educational program which can be used by public librarians in future.

The expected results of this research are as follows: First, measuring the change in perception among librarians and library users regarding CHI and library service quality to make suggestions for the improvement of future CHI education programs. Second, by obtaining expertise in CHI and a wide range of knowledge on CHI sources, librarians will be able to provide CHI services with confidence and educate users on the subject. Finally, users who received CHI user education will be able to access high quality CHI sources on the Internet and obtain precise information about their own health, which contributes to their own healthy life.


Due to an increase in available consumer health information sources, the librarian's role as an evaluator and provider of reliable CHI sources has become more important than ever. For this reason CHI-related education programs for improving CHI literacy must be studied and developed. Moreover, to improve the effectiveness of such programs, various CHI-related sites and databases should be constructed and offered.

Research and Development of Librarian Education Programs

Benedetti pointed out that even though public librarians are in a position to provide CHI-related reference service, libraries cannot afford to expand their medical and CHI-related collections, and librarians are afraid of providing incorrect medical advice. (5) Librarians who have received sufficient training can manage information resources and provide reference service in almost all areas, but, nevertheless, they are experiencing difficulties in answering CHI-related questions.

Therefore education programs for librarians need to be studied and developed. The Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh (CPL), for example, planned a librarian education program for CHI service improvement that focuses on consistent and high-quality consumer health assistance. …

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