Defining environmental health literacy

Marti Lindsey, Shaw Ree Chen, Richmond Ben, Melissa Manoogian, Jordan Spradlin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


“Environmental Health Literacy” (EHL) is embraced as important for improving public health by preventing disability and disease from our environment. This study aimed to determine knowledge and skill items identified by Environmental Health (EH) professionals as being associated with EHL and to understand how these items rank by importance. Such a coordinated effort to tease out skills and knowledge needed for EHL had not previously been made. We utilized a mixed-methods approach of semi-structured interviews of 24 EH professionals and a quantitative survey with 275 EH professionals across the United States. Interviews identified 37 skill and 69 knowledge items, which were used to create the survey questions. Survey results indicate 32 knowledge items and six skill items considered essential by >50% of respondents where consensus was reached between professional groups (chi square test: p > 0.05). We further identified six knowledge items, which >70% of EH professionals agreed were essential for EHL. The identification of these knowledge and skill items sets the stage for further research that includes exploring agreement with more diverse stakeholders, developing comprehensive measures of EHL and evaluation of methods and materials designed to improve EHL.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number11626
JournalInternational journal of environmental research and public health
Issue number21
StatePublished - Nov 1 2021


  • Disease prevention
  • Environmental health
  • Knowledge
  • Literacy
  • Risk communication
  • Skills

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pollution
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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