|Abstract: ||Background: Health systems around the world are facing significant shifts in demographic profiles due to increasing ethnic, cultural and linguistic diversity of populations they serve. However, the provision of health care and health services in the language of the minority has been difficult and inconsistent. The concept of the health-literate organization has been developed amid growing recognition that system changes are needed to align health-care delivery with the needs, skills, and abilities of the population. Despite the recent proliferation of research on health literacy, studies of organizational health literacy are still uncommon.
Objective: This dissertation addresses the concept and practical application of “organizational health literacy” in the context of an active offer of health services in French in Ontario, Canada. I attempt to answer the question “How can health literacy advance the development of health-care designs that are responsive and accessible to official language minority?”
Methods: My research consists of a three-part project that used health services research methodology and has been accomplished in academic partnership with the French Language Health Services Network of Eastern Ontario. I first conducted a review both of the literature on health literacy in linguistic minorities and of the content of organizational health literacy guides. Using a practical example of an active offer of French-language services in Ontario, I applied the organizational health-literacy framework in order to examine the strategies used by health-care organizations to provide for the active offer of health services in French. My analysis focuses on health-literacy dimensions (e.g., access and navigation, communication), quality improvement characteristics (e.g., assessment, improvement actions), and also organizational-level changes (e.g., administrative strategies, direct client services, governance). A focus group of health-care administrators provided a unique insight into the planning and implementation of the active offer and organizational health literacy and associated challenges.
Results: Overall, my results show that, although organizational changes may be implemented with the purpose of improving the quality of care by providing linguistically appropriate services, these changes are largely insufficient to achieve this goal.
Conclusions: The concept of organizational health literacy has not yet received the attention it deserves, but its relevance is clear: Health-care organizations must be health-literate to be able to address healthcare needs of their diverse patients. There is a significant gap between where health services are and where they ought to be to satisfy the designation criteria for the active offer of services in French. The concept and the novel theoretical framework of organizational health literacy offers the potential of improving and strengthening the process of designation and planning of an active offer of health services in French.|