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Author ORCID Identifier


Open Access Dissertation

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Degree Program

Public Health

Year Degree Awarded


Month Degree Awarded


First Advisor

Elena T. Carbone

Second Advisor

Patricia Beffa-Negrini

Third Advisor

Jessica Pearlman

Subject Categories

Community Health and Preventive Medicine | Health Communication | International and Community Nutrition | Maternal and Child Health | Social Media


The health literacy and eHealth literacy of women during the reproductive age is crucial, as it can affect their health and the health of their children. Promoting health literacy is essential to achieve mothers’ empowerment by improving access to and capacity of using health information effectively. However, functional, interactive, and critical health literacy and eHealth literacy have never been assessed among Chinese women. The first study during this dissertation assessed functional, interactive, and critical health literacy and eHealth literacy among 421 of Chinese mothers with children under 3 years old. The results revealed overall less than optimal level of health literacy. Maternal age, education, occupation, household income, residency, preference of Western versus Traditional Chinese Medicine, children’s age, time different caregivers spent taking care of the children were identified to be related to health literacy levels. The second study in this dissertation explored the role of health literacy and eHealth literacy in the use of health information among the same group of Chinese mothers. While high health literacy and eHealth literacy were related to more frequent and higher confidence in the use of health information, low health literacy was connected to the use of low-quality health information and may have negative impacts on personal, family, and community health. In the third study in this dissertation, an intervention based on a smartphone app WeChat was developed and implemented among 240 Chinese mothers with young children. This intervention significantly increased mothers’ confidence in their ability to appraise health information from WeChat. Mothers demonstrated improved functional, interactive and critical health literacy skills in focus group discussions. Increased health literacy skills also empowered mothers to make better health-related decisions for their children. WeChat-based interventions have the potential to improve all categories of health literacy skills among women with young children. Promoting health literacy may improve personal and community health outcomes.


Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License