Acknowledging and promoting indigenous knowledges, paradigms, and practices within health literacy-related policy and practice documents across Australia, Canada, and New Zealand

Gordon Robert Boot, Anne Lowell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Enhancing health literacy can empower individuals and communities to take control over their health as well as improve safety and quality in healthcare. However, Indigenous health studies have repeatedly suggested that conceptualisations of health literacy are confined to Western knowledge, paradigms, and practices. The exploratory qualitative research design selected for this study used an inductive content analysis approach and systematic iterative analysis. Publicly available health literacy-related policy and practice documents originating from Australia, Canada, and New Zealand were analysed to explore the extent to which and the ways in which Indigenous knowledges are recognised, acknowledged, and promoted. Findings suggest that active promotion of Indigenous-specific health knowledges and approaches is limited and guidance to support recognition of such knowledges in practice is rare. Given that health services play a pivotal role in enhancing health literacy, policies and guidelines need to ensure that health services appropriately address and increase awareness of the diverse strengths and needs of Indigenous Peoples. The provision of constructive support, resources, and training opportunities is essential for Indigenous knowledges to be recognised and promoted within health services. Ensuring that Indigenous communities have the opportunity to autonomously conceptualise health literacy policy and practice is critical to decolonising health care.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-30
Number of pages30
JournalInternational Indigenous Policy Journal
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 25 Jun 2019


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