Dr Hannah Goss

Insight Society: Improving the health literacy of young people

Submitted on Wednesday, 13/09/2023

A project to develop new app that aims to improve the health literacy of young people, is currently underway in Insight at DCU. Dr Hannah Goss (pictured above) is collaborating with Professor Alan Smeaton on this initiative which is funded by the SFI National Challenge Fund. They are aiming to reach all young people, but particularly those among the lower socioeconomic groups.

The researchers are concerned about the alarming rates of poor health in Irish young people, particularly the consistent evidence of a persistent and widening socioeconomic gap. They believe a proactive approach in developing health literacy in young people is key to addressing these worrying trends.

Dr Goss and Prof Smeaton plan to develop an app that can generate knowledge of young people’s lived experiences of health literacy and be used as an educational tool to support the development of young people’s health literacy. They plan to do this by to digitalising the Photovoice process. Photovoice is an engagement and research process by which people – usually those with limited power – use video and/or photo images to capture aspects of their environment and experiences and share them with others. The researchers are hoping to understand the strengths, issues and needs of young people in relation to health and wellbeing, through their own images and words. But in a novel approach, will integrate state of the art object detection technology. Crucially, this app will then provide teachers with a wealth of information, enabling them to feel more competent and confident in supporting young people’s health and wellbeing, and align with wider aspects of the post-primary curriculum.

At a local level, this technology can positively disrupt learning, and at a wider level, the information generated through the app can support researchers and policy makers in areas relating to young people’s health and well-being. As a participatory action project, the application will allow the perceptions of young people to be at the forefront of decisions made about these areas.

Goss says, “As part of the concept phase of the challenge, We have been working with stakeholders to explore the impact of poor health literacy in Ireland, and how this app could be part of a solution to tackling this complex issue. We will continue to co-design the app with stakeholders, and over the next 12 months will pilot this app in schools.”

For further information you can contact Dr Goss via the DCU website.