Date of Award

Fall 1-7-2017

Degree Type

Capstone Project

Degree Name

Master of Public Health (MPH)


Public Health

First Advisor

John Steward, MPH

Second Advisor

Daniel Whitaker, Ph.D.


INTRODUCTION: Per the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), local public health departments, tax-exempt 501(c)(3) hospitals, and federally qualified health centers are all required to conduct community health needs assessments (CHNAs) every three years. Recently, hospitals under pressure from accrediting bodies have been strongly advised to attend to health literacy due to its major implications for poorer health status. Health literacy has been linked with many facets of population-level health, including behavioral health, sociodemographic factors and health disparities.

OBJECTIVE: The broad purpose of the study was to evaluate the perceived importance of health literacy through review of prioritized health-related issues facing Georgia communities, as identified by community health needs assessments.

METHODS: A secondary analysis of findings from the first 3-year assessment and strategic planning cycles (2011-2013) of non-profit Georgia hospitals and medical centers (N=11) was conducted for the study. Community health needs assessments and implementation plans were obtained via Google search.

RESULTS: Of the assessments included in the review, 5 out of the 11 CHNAs mentioned health literacy, and only 1 acknowledged inadequate health literacy as a prioritized concern in the primary service area.

DISCUSSION: After comprehensive review of the community health needs assessments and implementation plans, it is clear that the impact of health literacy on community health was not strongly considered. Thus, in correspondence with much of existing research, the benefits of adequate health literacy in communities is severely undervalued.