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1.  Gadamerian philosophical hermeneutics as a useful methodological framework for the Delphi technique 
In this article we aim to demonstrate how Gadamerian philosophical hermeneutics may provide a sound methodological framework for researchers using the Delphi Technique (Delphi) in studies exploring health and well-being. Reporting of the use of Delphi in health and well-being research is increasing, but less attention has been given to covering its methodological underpinnings. In Delphi, a structured anonymous conversation between participants is facilitated, via an iterative survey process. Participants are specifically selected for their knowledge and experience with the topic of interest. The purpose of structuring conversation in this manner is to cultivate collective opinion and highlight areas of disagreement, using a process that minimizes the influence of group dynamics. The underlying premise is that the opinion of a collective is more useful than that of an individual. In designing our study into health literacy, Delphi aligned well with our research focus and would enable us to capture collective views. However, we were interested in the methodology that would inform our study. As researchers, we believe that methodology provides the framework and principles for a study and is integral to research integrity. In assessing the suitability of Delphi for our research purpose, we found little information about underpinning methodology. The absence of a universally recognized or consistent methodology associated with Delphi was highlighted through a scoping review we undertook to assist us in our methodological thinking. This led us to consider alternative methodologies, which might be congruent with the key principles of Delphi. We identified Gadamerian philosophical hermeneutics as a methodology that could provide a supportive framework and principles. We suggest that this methodology may be useful in health and well-being studies utilizing the Delphi method.
PMCID: PMC4422843  PMID: 25948132
Health and well-being methods; dialogue; collective opinion; democratic group method
2.  A critical review of population health literacy assessment 
BMC Public Health  2015;15:215.
Defining health literacy from a public health perspective places greater emphasis on the knowledge and skills required to prevent disease and for promoting health in everyday life. Addressing health literacy at the community level provides great potential for improving health knowledge, skills and behaviours resulting in better health outcomes. Yet there is a notable absence of discussion in the literature of what a health literate population looks like, or how this is best assessed.
The emphasis in assessing health literacy has predominantly focused on the functional health literacy of individuals in clinical settings. This review examines currently available health literacy assessment tools to identify how well suited they are in addressing health literacy beyond clinical care settings and beyond the individual. Although public health literature appears to place greater emphasis on conceptualizing critical health literacy, the focus continues to remain on assessing individuals, rather than on health literacy within the context of families, communities and population groups. When a population approach is adopted, an aggregate of individual health literacy assessment is generally used. Aggregation of individual health literacy fails to capture the dynamic and often synergistic relationships within communities, and fails to reflect societal influences on health knowledge, beliefs and behaviours.
We hypothesise that a different assessment framework is required to adequately address the complexities of community health literacy. We assert that a public health approach, founded on health promotion theories provides a useful scaffold to assess the critical health literacy of population groups. It is proposed that inclusion of community members in the research process is a necessary requirement to coproduce such an appropriate assessment framework.
We contend that health literacy assessment and potential interventions need to shift to promoting the knowledge and skills essential for critical health literacy at a societal level. The challenge for researchers is to negotiate the myriad of complexities associated with each concept and component required for this task.
PMCID: PMC4351936  PMID: 25885742
Critical health literacy; Community health literacy assessment
3.  Measuring oral health literacy: a scoping review of existing tools 
BMC Oral Health  2014;14:148.
This article presents findings from a scoping review of tools used to measure oral health literacy. Internationally, interest in oral health literacy is driven by oral health disparities, particularly for disadvantaged groups, with conditions such as dental caries and periodontal disease contributing substantially to the global burden of disease. The increasing focus on measuring oral health literacy aligns with reasons for measuring broader health literacy, that is, by assessing oral health literacy, decisions can be made about instigating interventions at policy and practice level to improve individual and population level oral health. There are numerous tools available that measure oral health literacy using a range of indicators.
A scoping review was designed to map the existing tools designed to measure oral health literacy (OHL). Key search terms were developed and mapped. Selected databases were used that identified 32 relevant studies reporting a range of OHL tools.
We identified 32 articles that reported a range of oral health literacy tools. Many of the studies used the Rapid Estimate of Adult Literacy in Dentistry (REALD) and/or the Test of Functional Health Literacy in Dentistry (ToFHLiD) that were developed from earlier tools designed to measure broader health literacy. These tools have been widely criticised for providing only an approximate measure of OHL based mainly on word recognition. A number of newer tools have included new measures of oral health literacy including numeracy and oral health conceptual knowledge however tools that measure important indicators of oral health literacy such as service navigation are rare.
Findings from this scoping exercise confirm our findings from preliminary scans that the majority of tools are heavily biased towards word recognition, numeracy and reading skills, rather than what this means in terms of health behaviours and service utilisation. More recent developments have attempted to incorporate other aspects considered important, including decision making and service navigation. The incorporation of these aspects into newer tools will provide oral health researchers and policy makers with further evidence of the importance of oral health literacy when designing interventions to improve oral health.
PMCID: PMC4417207  PMID: 25472659
Oral health literacy tools; Oral health; Dental health literacy; Health literacy; Scoping review
4.  Methodology or method? A critical review of qualitative case study reports 
Despite on-going debate about credibility, and reported limitations in comparison to other approaches, case study is an increasingly popular approach among qualitative researchers. We critically analysed the methodological descriptions of published case studies. Three high-impact qualitative methods journals were searched to locate case studies published in the past 5 years; 34 were selected for analysis. Articles were categorized as health and health services (n=12), social sciences and anthropology (n=7), or methods (n=15) case studies. The articles were reviewed using an adapted version of established criteria to determine whether adequate methodological justification was present, and if study aims, methods, and reported findings were consistent with a qualitative case study approach. Findings were grouped into five themes outlining key methodological issues: case study methodology or method, case of something particular and case selection, contextually bound case study, researcher and case interactions and triangulation, and study design inconsistent with methodology reported. Improved reporting of case studies by qualitative researchers will advance the methodology for the benefit of researchers and practitioners.
PMCID: PMC4014658  PMID: 24809980
Case studies; health research; research design; interdisciplinary research; qualitative research; literature review
5.  Community participation in rural health: a scoping review 
Major health inequities between urban and rural populations have resulted in rural health as a reform priority across a number of countries. However, while there is some commonality between rural areas, there is increasing recognition that a one size fits all approach to rural health is ineffective as it fails to align healthcare with local population need. Community participation is proposed as a strategy to engage communities in developing locally responsive healthcare. Current policy in several countries reflects a desire for meaningful, high level community participation, similar to Arnstein’s definition of citizen power. There is a significant gap in understanding how higher level community participation is best enacted in the rural context. The aim of our study was to identify examples, in the international literature, of higher level community participation in rural healthcare.
A scoping review was designed to map the existing evidence base on higher level community participation in rural healthcare planning, design, management and evaluation. Key search terms were developed and mapped. Selected databases and internet search engines were used that identified 99 relevant studies.
We identified six articles that most closely demonstrated higher level community participation; Arnstein’s notion of citizen power. While the identified studies reflected key elements for effective higher level participation, little detail was provided about how groups were established and how the community was represented. The need for strong partnerships was reiterated, with some studies identifying the impact of relational interactions and social ties. In all studies, outcomes from community participation were not rigorously measured.
In an environment characterised by increasing interest in community participation in healthcare, greater understanding of the purpose, process and outcomes is a priority for research, policy and practice.
PMCID: PMC3583801  PMID: 23414561
Community participation; Community engagement; Rural health; Health policy; Health reform; Health services
6.  Rural Australian community pharmacists' views on complementary and alternative medicine: a pilot study 
Complementary and alternative medicines (CAMs) are being used increasingly across the world. In Australia, community pharmacists are a major supplier of these products but knowledge of the products and interactions with other medicines is poor. Information regarding the use of CAMs by metropolitan pharmacists has been documented by the National Prescribing Service (NPS) in Australia but the views of rural/regional community pharmacists have not been explored. The aim of this pilot study was to explore the knowledge, attitudes and information seeking of a cohort of rural community pharmacists towards CAMs and to compare the findings to the larger NPS study.
A cross sectional self-administered postal questionnaire was mailed to all community pharmacists in one rural/regional area of Australia. Using a range of scales, data was collected regarding attitudes, knowledge, information seeking behaviour and demographics.
Eighty eligible questionnaires were returned. Most pharmacists reported knowing that they should regularly ask consumers if they are using CAMs but many lacked the confidence to do so. Pharmacists surveyed for this study were more knowledgeable in regards to side effects and interactions of CAMs than those in the NPS survey. Over three quarters of pharmacists surveyed reported sourcing CAM information at least several times a month. The most frequently sought information was drug interactions, dose, contraindications and adverse effects. A variety of resources were used to source information, the most popular source was the internet but the most useful resource was CAM text books.
Pharmacists have varied opinions on the use of CAMs and many lack awareness of or access to good quality CAMs information. Therefore, there is a need to provide pharmacists with opportunities for further education. The data is valuable in assisting interested stakeholders with the development of initiatives to address the gaps in attitudes, knowledge and to improve effectiveness of information seeking behaviour.
PMCID: PMC3217877  PMID: 22035220

Results 1-6 (6)