Norwegian version
A father gives medicine on a spoon to his child.

Optimising health literacy amongst parents with immigrant backgrounds (OPAL)

The aim of the OPAL project is to develop knowledge about the health literacy of parents with immigrant backgrounds, as well as design and evaluate solutions to promote their health literacy.

This will be achieved through a collaboration between researchers at OsloMet, staff at the Bjerke City District that work with children, young people and their families, and parents with immigrant backgrounds that live in the city district.

The project consists of four steps:

  1. Mapping health literacy strengths, challenges and needs amongst parents with immigrant backgrounds
  2. Identifying and prioritizing research needs on the topic of parental health literacy seen from the point of view of those that live and work in Bjerke city district
  3. Co-designing solutions to promote health literacy amongst parents with immigrant backgrounds
  4. Piloting and evaluating solutions

User involvement with both parents and health staff is central in each step of the research project.

The project forms part of the Bridge Builder Strategy at OsloMet (in Norwegian) and is a UNIKOM collaboration between the Bjerke City District and OsloMet.

  • More about the project

    Health literacy is defined as the skills, knowledge and motivation to understand, critically appraise and use health information to make informed choices related to health behaviour, disease prevention, self-management of illness, and use of health and care services.

    Research has shown that low health literacy among parents can have negative consequences for the child’s health. A study from the Norwegian Public Health Department in 2021 found that several population groups with immigrant backgrounds had particular challenges related to health literacy and were represented to a greater extent in the groups defined as having low health literacy. This may be due to factors such as language barriers, cultural differences in understanding and managing health problems, as well as a lack of understanding of the Norwegian health system and health promotion services.

    In order to reduce differences in health literacy and support parents with immigrant backgrounds to take evidence-based health choices for their children, and navigate the Norwegian health and social systems effectively, we need knowledge about their resources, challenges and needs. In the OPAL project we will focus on how the primary health services and other key actors can better understand the health literacy challenges and needs of parents with immigrant backgrounds.

    Through increased knowledge and understanding, it will be possible to disseminate health information in a way that meets the real needs of the population. In the process towards such knowledge, user participation is central, both for understanding the challenges and in order to successfully develop and implement effective solutions. In the OPAL project we will use elements of two methods for needs-identification where users are central: "The James Lind Alliance Priority Setting Partnership" and the "Optimizing Health Literacy and Access (OPHELIA) process".

    The results of this project will contribute to develop knowledge on health literacy amongst parents with immigrant backgrounds. Furthermore, through the project we will be able to identify priority areas for future research and show how two user-centered, needs-led research processes. The project will also contribute to designing and testing out solutions that may be scaled up to other city districts with similar population groups and challenges.

  • Participants

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Associate Professor Kirsti Riiser is the main supervisor.

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