HLiA Agenda – Thursday, October 13, 2022

10:45 am – 10:50 am (ET)


Cynthia Baur, PhD

Horowitz Center for Health Literacy, University of Maryland School of Public Health

Michael Villaire, MSLM

Institute for Healthcare Advancement

10:50 am – 11:00 am (ET)

Retirement Tribute to Dr. Alice M. Horowitz, Oral Health Literacy Pioneer

Alice M. Horowitz, PhD, MA, RDH
Cynthia Baur, PhD

Horowitz Center for Health Literacy, University of Maryland School of Public Health

11:00 am – 11:10 pm (ET)

Community Leader Perspective: Language Access is an Essential Community Service

Maria D. Herrera

Spanish-Speaking Community of Maryland Inc. (La Comunidad)

Ms. Herrera will share her perspective as a service provider to low income and immigrant Spanish speaking families in Maryland. She will speak about their approach to promoting self-sufficiency and meaningful access to critical information about rights, services, and health.

11:10 am – 12:00 pm (ET)

A Policy Approach to Health Literacy Impact

Cynthia Baur, PhD

Horowitz Center for Health Literacy, University of Maryland School of Public Health

Leni Preston

Independent Consumer Voice on Health Policy

Delegate Joseline A. Peña-Melnyk, Esq.

Maryland House of Delegates, Democrat, District 21, Anne Arundel & Prince George's Counties

This session explains Maryland's health policy framework that led to the passage of a 2022 law designating the Horowitz Center for Health Literacy as the state's Consumer Health Information Hub. The law also translates the federal Plain Writing Act into state level plain language requirements for public health safety and social services benefits information. The speakers will describe the legislative
and consumer health advocacy and prior bills and laws that laid the groundwork for the new Hub and suggest options for other states and localities to consider.

  • List the main elements of the Maryland Consumer Health Information Hub
  • Describe key factors that help or hinder consumer health information policies
  • Analyze their own state and local environments for health literacy policy

12:00 pm – 12:15 pm (ET)


12:15 pm – 1:15 pm (ET)

Health Literacy 101: An Introduction to the Field

Michael Villaire, MSLM

Institute for Healthcare Advancement

This workshop will provide an overview of the scope of low health literacy, including frequencies among the general population, general characteristics,  abilities, and challenges of persons with low health literacy, and the cost of poor health literacy (both in terms of human suffering and dollars).

  • Define health literacy and describe the prevalence of poor health literacy in the United States.
  • Discuss the general characteristics, abilities, and challenges of those with poor health literacy skills.
  • Describe two reasons why health literacy matters in the healthcare system.

12:15 pm – 1:15 pm (ET)

Digital Health Wave: Effective to Support Mental Health Literacy in the Black Community?

Devlon N. Jackson, PhD, MPH

Department of Behavioral and Community Health, School of Public Health, University of Maryland, College Park

Henry Willis, PhD
Social Policy and Practice, University of Pennsylvania; School of Social Work, Columbia University

Kevin Washington, PhD
Department of Psychology / Sociology Grambling State University

Stacey Little, PhD, MPH
Prince George’s Healthcare Coalition

COVID-19 traumatic events such as death, illness, unemployment, stigma, in conjunction with more acts of anti-Blackness have exacerbated the mental health issues of Black America. The lived experience for many Black adults in the U.S. is a different worldview than other racial and ethnic groups, and it is a daily challenge managing the mental health challenges such as stress, anxiety, and depression that are rooted in racism, white supremacy, and oppression. While we hope for an equitable and just society, scientists, providers, and practitioners within the fields of health literacy, health communication, mental health, and public health must consider tools that can be leveraged to support the health and wellness of the Black community.

Digital health tools such as mobile health apps, telemedicine, health websites and wearables have become resources for individuals to find some support in managing their stressors that can be precursors to other mental health conditions. However, these tools are not always equitably tailored, accessible, and available for the Black community. Additionally, it is unclear if those within the Black community engaging with these tools, that their mental health literacy is increasing and as a result their mental health outcomes are improving.

  • Identify strategies to use digital health tools with the Black community to improve mental health literacy
  • Understand how digital health tools can contribute to exacerbating or eliminating mental health disparities with the Black community
  • Name at least 3 examples of digital health tools that Black adults could use for mental health and stress management

1:15 pm – 1:30 pm (ET)


1:30 pm – 3:00 pm (ET)

The Importance of Empathy in Clear Communication

Jaime Murphy Dawson, MPH

Communicate Health

Melanie Schwarz, MA

Communicate Health

Empathy happens when you truly try to understand or experience someone else’s emotions as if they were your own. It's about communicating to others that you see and hear them. That message can be incredibly powerful — and it can transform your health communications.

In this session, we’ll dive into why empathy matters so much in the field of health communication and look at strategies for incorporating it into your writing. As public health and health communication professionals, we have a unique opportunity to advance health literacy by creating empathetic communications that are accessible, understandable, and inclusive — communications that establish a connection with our readers and foster trust. Let’s explore how to do that.

  • Understand the science of empathy
  • Describe the role of empathy in health communication
  • Identify strategies for incorporating empathy into health communications, including using plain and inclusive language

1:30 pm – 2:10 pm (ET)

Health Literacy and The Role of Plain Language

Romina Marazzato Sparano, MAT, CT

Language Compass

Health literacy involves an array of skills from individuals and organizations to enable healthcare decisions for
self, others, and the environment, in both distressing and everyday situations. For individuals to find, understand, and apply health-related information, institutional realities, provider attitudes and skills, and the clarity and empathy
of shared information must converge to achieve better
outcomes. Plain language has a vital role to play in aligning
audiences, providers, and situations to produce better health outcomes. In this session, we will explore
how plain language helps us infuse both
clarity and empathy in written communication. We will discuss how the principles out lined in upcoming ISO standard 24495 on Plain Language can be implemented through the RAISE guidelines, developed by the presenter: Relevance, Accessibility, Intelligibility, Suitability, and Efficacy.

  • Define health literacy, identify factors that impact it and
    possible interventions to improve it
  • Define plain language, describe its role in health literacy, and identify and apply strategies to improve clarity and empathy in health communication

2:20 pm – 3:00 pm (ET)

Professional Development Opportunities in Health Literacy

Rachel Roberts, MPH, CHES

Institute for Healthcare Advancement 

Eskarlethe Juarez, MPH, CHES

Institute for Healthcare Advancement 

Join this session to learn about ways to keep learning health literacy best practices after the conference. Find out about how to enhance your health literacy knowledge with the online Health Literacy Specialist Certificate program and learn about tools and resources that can be found on the Health Literacy Solutions Center.

  • Describe a program to enhance health literacy knowledge.
  • State at least 1 way to find health literacy resources.
  • Describe at least 1 way to stay connected with the health literacy community.

3:00 pm – 3:15 pm (ET)


3:15 pm – 4:15 pm (ET)

Health Misinformation Online: Understanding Susceptibility and Creating Safeguards

Alla Keselman, PhD

Office of Engagement and Training, National Library of Medicine

Catherine Arnott Smith, PhD

Information School, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Amanda Wilson, MSLS
National Library of Medicine 

While health misinformation is an old problem, contemporary health information technology created a new sense of urgency in addressing it, challenging professionals who help the public navigate health information.  This talk will help professionals recognize and communicate health information quality markers. It will also introduce individual and community factors that may affect susceptibility to health misinformation and provide tips on meaningful health information engagement with communities. The factors addressed in the session will include information, science, and health literacies, culture, and ideology. The talk will present insights informed by research studies conducted during the Covid-19 pandemic.

  • Identify at least 4 information quality markers
  • Explain why individuals may express skepticism about authoritative health information messages
  • Describe at least 5 practical recommendations for professionals who promote evidence-based health information and wrangle with misinformation

3:15 pm – 4:15 pm (ET)

Public Librarians’ Roles in Supporting Their Communities During COVID-19: Research and Best Practices from the Field

Beth St. Jean, PhD

College of Information Studies, University of Maryland

Mega Subramaniam, PhD

College of Information Studies, University of Maryland

Xenia Hernández

Saint Paul Public Library

This session will discuss research and best practices on how public libraries adapted their existing community outreach and information services and created new resources, programs, and services during the COVID-19 pandemic. Panelists will share the different categories of outreach and services that public libraries implemented with and for their communities, the skills and knowledge that librarians had to quickly learn in order to serve their communities, the partnerships that they tapped or built in order to serve their communities, how such services promoted equitable access to health information and services, and the barriers that they faced as they were implementing these services. The panelists will share examples, best practices, and resources from the public library world that illuminate the strengths of this public institution in serving their communities at the time of a crisis.

  • Explain the different roles that public libraries played during the COVID-19 pandemic and how they helped to prevent and address health disparities within their communities.
  • Adopt the best practices that were implemented by public libraries with and for their communities into their own contexts.
  • Compare the barriers faced by public libraries to their own contexts of work and devise a plan to handle similar barriers in the future.