An Assessment of Community-Based Organization Readiness to Move Towards Becoming a Health Literate Organization

Melanie A Stone, The University of Texas School of Public Health


People struggle with low health literacy and the ability to understand and act upon health information and services, which affects their ability to perform essential tasks to keep themselves and their families healthy. This effect is not equally distributed, with health disparate populations struggling more. Organizational health literacy (OHL) acknowledges that organizations and systems have a responsibility to make their services and resources easier to access, understand and use to improve health equity. Studies have mainly focused on improving OHL in hospital and clinic settings. However, many people, and especially marginalized populations, tend to get their health information and services from trusted community-based organizations where they receive social services and support. The concept of bringing OHL into the community setting is a new area of research that can have important implications for reaching people where they are to reduce health inequities. This study used a convergent parallel mixed methods design to examine factors that affect the readiness of community-based health organizations to prepare for OHL-related changes. Specifically, it determined how the organizational cultural factors of leadership support and staff buy-in affect readiness for OHL change, and it identified organizational facilitators and barriers through an environmental self-assessment. The study used a convenience sample of ten San Antonio organizations participating in an OHL program, which included a mix of clinical and non-clinical settings. Methods included interviews with senior leadership, a questionnaire on organizational readiness for change with staff, an environmental self-assessment of the organization, and structured discussion groups with staff who participated in the self-assessment. There was found to be both high leadership support and perceived staff buy-in for health literacy changes to be made at the organizations. Results showed that community-based health organizations can successfully engage in an environmental health literacy self-assessment process to identify their facilitators and barriers to health literacy. Furthermore, it showed how these organizations can use the results to create action steps to improve their OHL. Organizations have a responsibility to make their health information and services easier to access, understand and use by their clients. This formative research indicates an area of opportunity to extend OHL to community-based settings, which often serve as health resources, especially for health disparate populations. OHL improvements in any setting where people receive health information and services may help remove barriers to care and improve health equity in our population.

Subject Area

Public health|Behavioral Sciences

Recommended Citation

Stone, Melanie A, "An Assessment of Community-Based Organization Readiness to Move Towards Becoming a Health Literate Organization" (2023). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI30522981.