Embedding a Health Literacy Intervention Within Established Parenting Groups: An Australian Feasibility Study

Health Lit Res Pract. 2020 Mar 10;4(1):e67-e78. doi: 10.3928/24748307-20200217-01.


Background: A significant proportion of new parents in high-income countries have lower health literacy, but few health literacy interventions exist for this group.

Objective: This study investigated the feasibility of delivering health literacy content within existing postnatal parenting groups.

Methods: Multicenter feasibility study using a seven-group pre-test post-test design. Parents older than age 16 years with children between age 4 and 26 weeks with sufficient English fluency were invited to participate in a 4-week health literacy program (four 2-hour sessions) delivered by trained facilitators (e.g., child and family health nurses). Mixed-methods evaluation was used, with quantitative data analyzed descriptively and qualitative data (e.g., focus groups, observations, interviews) analyzed using the Framework approach.

Key results: Our health literacy program was successfully delivered at six sites in New South Wales, Australia, in 2018. Our recruitment strategy was successful in reaching diverse learners (N = 73), many who were born in a country other than Australia. However, few had limited health literacy as assessed by a subjective, single-item measure, and only half completed the follow-up questionnaires. High baseline knowledge, skills, and confidence among participants limited the potential for change in these quantitative outcomes but shed light on the utility of different measurement instruments in this context. Qualitative analyses suggested that the health literacy program aligned well with the institutional objectives of child and family health services and was acceptable to learners from diverse cultural backgrounds. However, in its current form, it may be perceived as too simple for learners with higher levels of education and literacy.

Conclusions: Our study has offered practical insights into the feasibility of embedding a health literacy intervention into established postnatal parenting groups and shown how program resources and facilitator training could be adapted to make the program more suitable for a range of learners and better support facilitators. [HLRP: Health Literacy Research and Practice. 2020;4(1):e67-e78.] PLAIN LANGUAGE SUMMARY: This study looked at the feasibility of delivering a 4-week health literacy program to new parents using existing postnatal parenting groups in New South Wales, Australia. Although the program was generally acceptable to learners and facilitators, this study offers several strategies to further improve the program so that it better supports facilitators and suits a wider range of learners.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Feasibility Studies
  • Female
  • Health Literacy / methods*
  • Health Promotion / methods*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • New South Wales
  • Parenting / psychology*
  • Parents / education*
  • Parents / psychology
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Young Adult