HLT1: Health Literacy for Public Health Practitioners - Course Outline


Canadians are continuously faced with making decisions about their health, and information is everywhere, especially on the Internet. Unfortunately, research shows that many Canadians do not have the necessary skills to make informed decisions for their health. These skills are referred to as health literacy, a skill that empowers individuals and communities to take action for their health.

A lack of health literacy is a risk factor that contributes to a poor health outcome. Public health practitioners can contribute greatly to improving health literacy among their clients. This course invites you to think about how health literacy relates to and can become part of your work and can be integrated into the practice in your agency/organization/institution.


There are no prerequisites for this course. However, the SUR2: Communicating Data Effectively, contains complimentary content. It is recommended that you consider taking SUR2.

Learning Objectives

The goal of this course is to help you access, comprehend, evaluate and communicate information about health literacy, so that you can apply this knowledge in your work. As well, this course is designed to help you understand how health literacy can be an asset in your work by applying the building blocks and related strategies to address individual and systemic barriers to health literacy.

Upon completion of this course, you will:


Successful completion of this course contributes to the attainment of the following Core Competencies for Public Health In Canada:

The Learning Process

This course is divided into six lessons, and includes assignments and discussion forum activities. Each lesson ends with a self‐assessment test. You will have eight weeks to complete the 23-31 hours of work required (about 3‐5 hours per week is suggested; see the learning schedule below).

A trained online facilitator, knowledgeable in public health, is assigned to your group to provide support and guidance. The facilitator is available to answer content‐related questions, provide feedback on assignments, and encourage discussion among participants through discussion forums.

HLT1 Learning Schedule

This schedule is a guide to help you pace yourself as you go through the course. Please aim to complete the discussion activities "in sync" with the other learners.

Time Period Course Work Estimated # of hours
Week 1

Getting Started: what you need to know and do

Lesson 1: What is Health Literacy?

  • Complete Lesson 1
  • Complete Discussion Forum 1
  • Complete Self-Assessment for Lesson 1
3-4 hours
Week 2

Lesson 2: Why is Health Literacy Important?

  • Complete Lesson 2
  • Complete Discussion Forum 2
  • Complete Self-Assessment for Lesson 2
Week 3

Lesson 3: A Health Literacy Model

  • Complete Lesson 3
  • Complete Activity 1
  • Complete Activity 2
  • Complete Self-Assessment for Lesson 3
1-2 hours
Week 4

Lesson 4: Barriers to Health Literacy

  • Complete Lesson 4
  • Complete Activity 3
  • Complete Discussion Forum 3
  • Complete Assignment 1
  • Complete Self-Assessment for Lesson 4
4-5 hours
Week 5

Lesson 5: The Role of Health Literacy

  • Start Lesson 5
  • Complete Activity 4
  • Start Assignment 2
4-5 hours
Week 6

Lesson 5: The Role of Health Literacy

  • Finish Lesson 5
  • Finish Assignment 2
  • Complete Self-Assessment for Lesson 5

Lesson 6: Integrating Health Literacy in Your Work

  • Start Lesson 6
  • Start Assignment 3
4-5 hours
Week 7

Lesson 6: Integrating Health Literacy in Your Work

  • Finish Lesson 6
  • Finish Assignment 3
  • Complete Discussion Forum 4
  • Complete Self-Assessment for Lesson 6
4-5 hours
Week 8

Finishing Up

  • Ensure you have completed all parts of the course, have submitted all assignments and completed discussion activities.
  • Complete Final Feedback Survey
1 -2 hours
Total 23-31 hours

Course Features


The lessons in this course utilize a mix of text, figures and links to websites to:

Discussion Forums

Discussion forums are integral to the course. Messages can be posted and read on the forum system whenever convenient — 24 hours a day, seven days a week.


Assignments feature in all the courses, allowing you to reflect on the course content and to apply some of the concepts and principles to your work as a public health practitioner.

The three assignments in this course help you to put into practice the health literacy concepts in the course.

Assignments are usually one or two pages in length. Your facilitator will review, grade and provide individual feedback for each assignment. An incomplete assignment is returned with your facilitator’s comments and a request to resubmit.


Following each lesson you will be able to complete a short quiz to evaluate your understanding of the subject matter presented within each lesson. You will receive automatic feedback on your performance.


Successful completion of this course requires you to:

  1. complete all activities within the prescribed time frame for each;
  2. receive a satisfactory rating for all three assignments;
  3. participate in each of the three discussion forums;
  4. complete the final feedback survey questionnaire.


Participants receive a certificate from the Public Health Agency of Canada upon successful completion of the course.

Registration information is available at Skills Online-Register For Courses page. Note: you must be registered and logged in to access the registration page.

Note: Completion of this course contributes to the following Learning Pathcertificates: