Advancing environmental health literacy: Validated scales of general environmental health and environmental media-specific knowledge, attitudes and behaviors

Academic Article


  • Environmental health literacy (EHL) involves understanding and using environmental information to make decisions about health. This study developed a validated survey instrument with four scales for assessing media-specific (i.e., air, food, water) and general EHL. The four scales were created as follows: 1) item generation: environmental health scientists and statisticians developed an initial set of items in three domains: knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors; 2) item review: items were reviewed for face validity; 3) validation: 174 public health students, the exploratory sample, and 98 community members, the test sample, validated the scales. The scales’ factor structure was based on exploratory factor analysis (EFA) and model fit was assessed through confirmatory factor analysis (CFA). For each scale, the final EFA resulted in an independent three-factor solution for knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors. Good fit for the three-factor structure was observed. Model fit for CFA was generally confirmed with fit indices. The scales showed internal consistency with Cronbach’s alpha from 0.63 to 0.70. The 42-item instrument represents an important contribution towards assessing EHL and is designed to enable meaningful engagement between researchers and community members about environmental health. The intended outcome is sustained community–academic partnerships benefiting research design, implementation, translation, dissemination, and community action.
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Pubmed Id

  • 19938120
  • Author List

  • Lichtveld MY; Covert HH; Sherman M; Shankar A; Wickliffe JK; Alcala CS
  • Volume

  • 16
  • Issue

  • 21