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Relationship of Preventive Health Practices and Health Literacy: A National Study

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Objective : To identify relationships between the health literacy and self-reported preventive health practices of US adults.

Methods : Measured health literacy and preventive health practices for a nationally representative sample of adults (N = 18,100) and conducted probit regression analyses after controlling for age, gender, race/ethnicity, poverty level, insurance status, self-reported health status, and oral reading fluency.

Results : Low literacy was associated with a decreased likelihood of using most preventive health measures under study for adults aged 65 and older, but not for adults of 2 younger age groups.

Conclusion : The relationship between health literacy and preventive health practices varied substantially by adult age group.

Keywords: adult literacy; health literacy; preventive health practices; self-reported preventive health practices

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1 Project Officer, National Assessment of Adult Literacy, National Center for Education Statistics, Institute of Education Sciences, US Department of Education, Washington, DC.

Publication date: May 1, 2008

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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