CCST5078 Science, Technology and Big Data
Health Literacy: Things to Know Before Consulting Dr. Google (Online)

This course is under the thematic cluster(s) of:

  • The Human Life Span (HL)

Course Description

[Lectures and tutorials of this course will be delivered online.]

[This is a certified Communication-intensive (CI) Course which meets all of the requirements endorsed by HKU’s Senate, including (i) the teaching assessment of written and visual communication ‘literacies’; and (ii) at least 40% of the course grade is assigned to communication-rich assessment tasks.]

Modern healthcare has changed the way we approach medicine. We are now increasingly in charge of our health, assuming new roles in seeking information, understanding rights and responsibilities, and making health decisions. Underlying these demands, however, are the needs for the knowledge and skills to navigate the sea of information (and misinformation) to make smart decisions about health. Health literacy goes beyond having the basic ability of understanding and applying language, literacy and numeracy skills to process health information. It is also about having the knowledge, confidence and skills to interpret information. Raising the importance of health literacy among young adults is an important step for creating a healthy campus and urban environment. 

This course will equip students with the necessary skills and knowledge to understand health information to their fullest, empower them to make informed decisions, encourage students to question the reliability of information, and to think critically about scientific evidence. A skills-based and analytic approach will be taken, where attention will be given to the transferability of reading, numeracy and communication skills. Students will apply the skills in an end-of-term group project on a critical appraisal of a contemporary health-related topic of choice.

Course Learning Outcomes

On completing the course, students will be able to:

  1. Access reliable health-related information and service, apply critical reasoning skills to evaluate available evidence, and create logical explanations based on evidence to inform decision making, and present this in oral and written format.
  2. Explain that science is a systematic approach and apply understanding on research methodologies to differentiate between science and pseudoscience in various fields.
  3. Criticize sources of misinformation conveyed by the media and describe the influence of intuition, common sense, cultural and social norms on producing bias.
  4. Assess population and community needs, assets and capacities that affect health literacy, and recommend health literacy-focused changes for at least 1 public health campaign or healthcare organization/ community, and present this in visual format.

Offer Semester and Day of Teaching

First semester (Wed)

Study Load

Activities Number of hours
Lectures 24
Tutorials 10
Reading / Self-study 15
Assessment: Essay / Report writing 26
Assessment: Presentation (incl preparation) 45
Total: 120

Assessment: 100% coursework

Assessment Tasks Weighting
Individual essay 20
Group presentation 15
Group project 35
In-class participation and discussions 10
Tutorial participation 20

Required Reading

Readings / newspaper articles / fact sheets:

  •   Bygbjerg, I. C. (2012). Double Burden of Noncommunicable and Infectious Diseases in Developing Countries. Science, 337(6101), 1499-1501.
  • Ezeala, C. C., Nweke, I. N., & Ezeala, M.O. (2013). Common Errors in Manuscripts submitted to Medical Science Journals. Annals of Medical & Health Sciences Research, 3(3), 376-379.
  • Szucs, T. D., & Stoffel, A. W. (2016). Nutrition and health – Why payors should get involved. Nutrition, 32(5), 615-616.

Required Viewing

Course Co-ordinator and Teacher(s)

Course Co-ordinator Contact
Professor E.Y.F. Wan
Department of Family Medicine and Primary Care, LKS Faculty of Medicine
Tel: 2552 5756
Teacher(s) Contact
Professor E.Y.F. Wan
Department of Family Medicine and Primary Care, LKS Faculty of Medicine
Tel: 2552 5756
Professor E.P.H. Choi
School of Nursing, LKS Faculty of Medicine
Tel: 3917 6972
Mr F.W.T. Cheng
Department of Pharmacology and Pharmacy, LKS Faculty of Medicine
Tel: 3917 9024