The study of the concept of medical literacy and approaches to its assessment





According to the Ministry of Health of Ukraine, almost 70% of the population self-medicates without seeking medical help. Therefore, the correct perception of medical and pharmaceutical information determines the correct use of drugs, their effectiveness and safety for the population.

Aim. To analyze global approaches to determining medical literacy and assessing its level in the world.

Materials and methods. The research materials were publications in scientific periodicals, monographs, materials of official websites of world organizations and databases, such as JMIR, PubMed, ISI Web of Science, Academic Search Premier and Allied Health Literature. During the study the methods of the content analysis, historical, system-analytical, generalization were used.

Results. The authors have reviewed the literature on the concept of “medical literacy” and approaches to its assessment. The chronological periods of formation of the concept of “medical literacy” have been generalized. The following tests have been identified as key tools for assessing medical literacy in most studies: TOFHLA, REALM, NVS, and HLS-EU-Q47. Based on the results of the content analysis of the existing approaches in assessing the level of medical literacy of the population, the main indicators proposed for evaluation have been generalized, and the advantages and disadvantages of these tests have been considered.

Conclusions. The analysis conducted has shown that a promising study is the development of universal and optimal tools for assessing the level of medical literacy, as well as the definition of the concept of “pharmaceutical literacy” with its components, the development of methods for assessing pharmaceutical literacy, the implementation and evaluation of practices to improve medical and pharmaceutical literacy.

Key words: the concept of “medical literacy” and “pharmaceutical literacy”, approaches of health literacy assessment.

Author Biographies

A. V. Volkova, National university of Pharmacy

Candidate of Pharmacy (Ph.D.), associate professor, head of the Department of Social Pharmacy

Ye. Yu. Kovtun, National University of Pharmacy

Postgraduate student of the Department of Social Pharmacy


Masheiko, A. M., Podpletnia, O. A., Zaiarskyi, M. I., Zalyhina, Ye. V., Kukhar, O. P. (2011). Farmatsevtychnyi zhurnal, 3, 27-33.

Farmatsevtyka Ukrainy. TopLead. Available at:

Maslennikova, G. Ya., Organov, R. G. (2018). The russian journal of preventive medicine, 5, 5–8. doi:

Osborne, R. H., Elsworth, G. R., Whitfield, K. (2007). The Health Education Impact Questionnaire (heiQ): An outcomes and evaluation measure for patient education and self-management interventions for people with chronic conditions. Patient Education and Counseling, 66, 192–201.

Viatkina, N. A. (2019). Sibirskie istoricheskie issledovaniia, 4, 162–179. doi:

Sorensen, K., Van den Broucke, S., Fullam, J., Doyle, G., Pelikan, J., Slonska, Z., Brand, H. (2012). Health literacy and public health: A systematic review and integration of definitions and models. BMC Public Health, 12, 80. doi:

Slovnyk zmіtsnennia zdorovia (Health Promotion Glossary). Available at:

Syrtsova, L. E., Abrosimova, Yu. E., Lopatina, M. V. (2016). Profilakticheskaia meditsina, 19, 58–63. doi:

Amlaev, K. R. et al. (2012). Meditsinskii vestnik severnogo Kavkaza, 4, 75–79.

Kickbussh, I., Pelikan, J. (2014). Sanitarnaia gramotnost. Ubeditel’nye fakty. Available at:

Turdalieva, B. S., Aimbetova, G. E., Baisunova, G. S. (2014). Vestnik KazNMU, 2, 122–125.

Pouliot, A., Vaillancourt, R., Stacey, D., Suter, P. (2017). Defining and identifying concepts of medication literacy: An international. Research in Social and Administrative Pharmacy, 14. doi:

Dodson, S., Good, S., Osborne, R. (2015). Health literacy toolkit for low- and middle-income countries: A series of information sheets to empower communities and strengthen health systems. New Dehli, India, 146.

Cornett, S. (2009). Assessing and Addressing Health Literacy. Online Journal of Issues in Nursing, 14 (3). doi: 10.3912/OJIN.Vol14No03Man02.

World Health Organization. Health Literacy. Available at:

Murphy, P. W., Davis, T. C., Long, S. W. (1993). Rapid Estimate of Adult Literacy in Medicine (REALM): A Quick Reading Test for Patients. Journal of Reading, 37 (2), 124–130.

Brabers, A. E. M., Rademakers, J. J. D. J. M., Groenewegen, P. P., van Dijk, L., de Jong, J. D. (2017). What role does health literacy play in patients’ involvement in medical decision-making. PLoS One, 12 (3), e0173316. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0173316.

Leslie, C. J., Hawkins, M., Smith, D. L. (2020). Using the Health Literacy Questionnaire (HLQ) with Providers in the Early Intervention Setting: A Qualitative Validity Testing Study. Public Health, 17 (7), 2603. doi:

Kayser, L., Rossen, S., Karnoe, A., Elsworth, G., Vibe-Petersen, J., Christensen, J. F., Ried-Larsen, M., Osborne, R. H. (2019). Development of the Multidimensional Readiness and Enablement Index for Health Technology (READHY) Tool to Measure Individuals’ Health Technology Readiness: Initial Testing in a Cancer Rehabilitation Setting. J Med Internet Res., 21 (2), e10377. doi: 10.2196/10377.

Rademakers, J., Heijmans, M. (2018). Beyond Reading and Understanding: Health Literacy as the Capacity to Act. International Journal Environmental Research Public Health., 15 (8), 1676. doi:

Greene, J., Hibbard, J., Tusler, M. (2005). How Much Do Health Literacy and Patient Activation Contribute to Older Adults’ Ability to Manage Their Health? AARP Report, 5.

Powers, B. J., Trinh, J. V., Bosworth, H. B. (2010). Can this patient read and understand written health information?. JAMA, 7, 76-84. doi: 10.1001/jama.2010.896

Lagutkina, T. P., Loskutova, E. E., Dorofeeva, V. V., Kosova, I. V., Teodorovich, A. A. (2020). Mediko-farmatsevticheskii zhurnal “Puls”, 22 (1), 62-69. doi: 10.26787/nydha-2686-6838-2020-22-1-62-69.

Vamos, S., Okan, O., Sentell, T., Rootman, I. (2020). Making a Case for “Education for Health Literacy”: An International Perspective. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 17 (4), 1436. doi: 10.3390/ijerph17041436.

Kolarcik, P., Belak, A., Osborne, R. H. (2015). The Ophelia process. The European Health Psychologist, 17 (6), 297–304.





Social medicine and pharmacy: past, present and development prospects