Article Text

Download PDFPDF
46 Community health: public libraries and their role in health and well-being
  1. Caroline De Brún
  1. Public Health England, London, UK


Objectives To make informed decisions, people need to have the skills to find the right information for their needs. Evidence-based practice has been embedded in clinical practice since the early 90 s, and there are many resources available to help health professionals make evidence-informed decisions, including clinical databases, point of care tools, journals, and medical librarians to help them retrieve and appraise the information that they need. The general public does not explicitly have this support. There are specialist websites available, such as NHS Choices, The Information Standard,, etc. but the general public may not know how to use them, or may not even be aware of them. This is where public and NHS librarians can help, as they can act as signposts to the information that empowers people to be active participants in their health and well-being.

Method Public Health England, the Society of Chief Librarians, Health Education England, the Chartered Institute for Library and Information Professionals, and the Patient Information Forum, have been working together to build links between NHS and public librarians, so that HIL and access to good quality consumer health information can be improved for the general public. A series of workshops was delivered to public and NHS librarians in England, to inform them about the importance of HIL in health and well-being, the impact of low levels of HIL, good quality, consumer health information sources, and give them the opportunity to identify ways to work together to support people looking for health information.

Results In 2012, The Reading Agency said that ‘public library staff are second only to doctors in terms of the trust placed in them.’ They have an integral part to play in shared decision-making and health information literacy (HIL). They possess the required skills, and are uniquely positioned in the community, to provide information support to the general public, particularly to those people who are harder for health and social care services to reach. People with low health literacy are more likely to experience poorer health outcomes, because they do not understand how to manage their health, and/or may have difficulties navigating the health system.

Conclusions This poster highlights the key evidence behind consumer health information, and describes the consequences of poor health information literacy, the content of the workshops and the partners involved in moving this initiative forward.

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.