A Multisite Community-Based Health Literacy Intervention for Spanish Speakers

F. Soto Mas, C. Cordova, A. Murrietta, H. E. Jacobson, F. Ronquillo, D. Helitzer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


The National Action Plan to Improve Health Literacy emphasizes the importance of community-based opportunities for education, such as English as a second language (ESL) programs. It recommends collaborations among the adult literacy and ESL communities. However, limited attention has been given to researching the effectiveness of community-based interventions that combine ESL and health literacy. The purpose of this study was to explore the feasibility of using different community settings for improving health literacy among adult Spanish speakers through an English language program. The study used a pre-experimental, single arm pretest–posttest design, and implemented the Health Literacy and ESL Curriculum. A collaborative was established between the community and university researchers. Participants were recruited at three distinctive sites. Health literacy was assessed using the Spanish version of the Test of Functional Health Literacy in Adults (TOFHLA). Analysis included descriptive and paired-group t test. Forty-nine participants completed the intervention and post-tests (92 % retention rate). Overall—all sites—posttest scores significantly improved for total TOFHLA, raw numeracy, and reading comprehension (p < 0.0001). Similarly, all three sites yielded significantly better mean differences for the total TOFHLA score while numeracy and reading comprehension significantly improved in some sites. Results suggest that community sites are viable venues for delivering health literacy/language instruction to Spanish speaking adults. The study also points to community engagement and ESL programs as two essential components of effective health literacy interventions among Spanish speakers.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)431-438
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Community Health
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 1 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • Collaborative
  • ESL
  • English language
  • Hispanics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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