Becoming health literate – ADOHTA 2021

Becoming health literate

Dr Linda Stein


Health literacy is essential at the dental clinic, in the communities, and within the interprofessional public health practice. Lately, organizations like WHO and EU have emphasized the importance of health literacy friendly health services, schools and societies. Also, many western countries now have strategies to deal with the challenges of low health literacy populations.

In today’s information society, health information is available to the public from various sources. By utilizing the Internet, an answer to a question might be just a few clicks away. However, the number of hits on the Internet are often many. Patients might trust misleading information and might even make important health decisions based on sensationalized or emotionally charged stories that are not relevant to their health context. Health literacy is not just the result of individual capacities but also the health-literacy related demands and complexities of the health care system. Patients, oral health professionals, and health services must all become health literate.



Dr Linda Stein is a Norwegian licenced dental hygienist who started her career in private dental practice. After a few years, she underwent postgraduate training in educational pedagogics. Linda combined her clinical practice with part-time clinical teaching for Bachelor of dental hygiene students at the University of Oslo. After completing a Master’s degree in Public Health, a desire to do more research made her move up north to UiT The Arctic University of Norway, where she completed her PhD in 2015.

Linda’s research interests include population oral health, health literacy, health services research and Indigenous oral health. Teaching responsibilities include dental public health and epidemiology, along with supervision of Bachelor, Master and PhD students. Linda had the pleasure to be a guest researcher at Melbourne Dental School in 2018/2019.

Dr Stein holds an Associate Professor appointment at UiT The Arctic University of Norway. For three years, Linda was appointed as head of teaching and learning at the Department of Clinical Dentistry. She is currently the head of the Bachelor of dental hygiene program and in charge of Dental public health education for the Bachelor of dental hygiene and the Master of dentistry programs.