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Health Literacy Skills of U.S. Adults

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Objectives : To examine adults' literacy proficiencies in multiple health contexts.

Methods : One hundred ninety-one (191) health-related items drawn from all large-scale adult literacy surveys before 2003 were scored as an independent health literacy scale. Latent class analyses provide portraits of adults with different health literacy skills.

Results : Adults without a high school diploma or GED, with health-related restrictions, with limited access to resources, who are members of minority population groups, and who are immigrants have lower health literacy skills than do others.

Conclusions : The distribution of health literacy is not independent of general literacy skills at population or subpopulation levels.
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Keywords: health literacy

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Senior Lecturer on Society, Human Development, and Health, Department of Society, Human Development and Health, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston MA.

Publication date: 2007-08-01

More about this publication?
  • The American Journal of Health Behavior seeks to improve the quality of life through multidisciplinary health efforts in fostering a better understanding of the multidimensional nature of both individuals and social systems as they relate to health behaviors.

    The Journal aims to provide a comprehensive understanding of the impact of personal attributes, personality characteristics, behavior patterns, social structure, and processes on health maintenance, health restoration, and health improvement; to disseminate knowledge of holistic, multidisciplinary approaches to designing and implementing effective health programs; and to showcase health behavior analysis skills that have been proven to affect health improvement and recovery.

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