Health Literacy Database At Miami University: Visual-Textual & Lexical Patterns for Health

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Brief Abstract

Impacts on health literacy are possible when technological tools help adolescents and adults gain access to routines for daily living through visual-textual media.


Valerie A. Ubbes, PhD, MCHES, is an Associate Professor of Public Health at Miami University. Dr. Ubbes is also the project director of the Digital Literacy Partnership ( with three websites. One of those websites is called the Children's Picture Book Database at Miami University which was recognized by the International Society for Technology in Education (2005) as one of the 101 Best Web Sites for Elementary Teachers. Valerie's second website showcases a new genre of literature called Electronic Texts for Health Literacy which demonstrate healthy behaviors through visual, textual, and lexical patterns of message design. Dr. Ubbes teaches courses in Health Communication and Education, Health Promotion Foundations, and Health Program Planning and Evaluation. Her research focuses on health literacy and health communication message design.

Extended Abstract

Electronic Texts for Health Literacy© use a narrative of reasoned actions to demonstrate health habits. Each photographic image demonstrates the motivations toward a health behavior. We purposely do not include poor examples of health habits because media have many examples that demonstrate what not to do or what is easy to do.

My goal is to produce electronic materials for health literacy that will offer a tipping point of healthy examples for daily living - and offset the high number of poorer examples each of us observes in real time, in virtual time, and in media time. There is a need to improve access to visual textual materials that are positive-frame message design. This presentation will use I-Pads (aka Tablets) to disseminate Electronic Texts for Health Literacy© which allows for active hands while thinking about the next reasoned actions to take toward health. Tablets increase eye-hand coordination for active learning initially, but eventually the individual needs to motivate and move into healthy decisions, goals, and communication patterns for health. Language patterns get practiced with written, read, and spoken materials. Ideally, each person who learns to write a personal narrative in words, pictures, numbers, and body language will also practice the requisite literacy skills that can culminate in health literacy.

There are examples of health curricula that use multiple theories when designing lessons. In Electronic Texts for Health Literacy©, I have organized the story narrative around the Theory of Reasoned Action. The Theory of Reasoned Action outlines three types of beliefs that predict an individual's intentions to do a healthy behavior. Although I use the Theory of Reasoned Action as a framework for the writing, no attempt has been made to measure health or literacy outcomes with one E-Text. I believe that a full complement of E-Texts for Health Literacy at the rate of one a day could be shown to consumers with the hopes to counter the negative media examples that exist on a daily basis.

Generally, videos or DVDs go too fast when demonstrating what to do in a health-related situation or context. By using a series of advancing Power Point slides at the reader's pace, there is adaptability and functionality that is tailor made to the individual. This image by image sequence allows for reflection time - and reinforces what the individual can do when observing role models for a particular Habit of Health (behavior) and Habit of Mind (cognitive skill). Reasoned action narratives involve sentences that are written in a procedural way with both words and pictures. Sentences are written with repeating patterns of a health-related skill (verb) for 10 slides. Each sentence offers an action with a reason for doing the action, which supports the intent of the Theory of Reasoned Action. Examples of Electronic Texts for Health Literacy© can be found on my Digital Literacy Partnership website at

The paper and presentation will discuss the impact of the innovation on the end users and demonstrate how other university faculty can replicate the project on their campuses and/or become partners with the Digital Literacy Partnership. The scope of the partnership includes outlines for academic service learning.