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Health Literacy Skills in Rural and Urban Populations

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Objective : To determine whether health literacy is lower in rural populations.

Method : We analyzed health, prose, document, and quantitative literacy from the National Assessment of Adult Literacy study. Metropolitan Statistical Area designated participants as rural or urban.

Results : Rural populations had lower literacy levels for all literacy types (P<0.001 for each). After adjusting for known confounders, there was no longer a difference in health or prose literacy (P>0.05). However, rural populations had higher document (P=0.04) and quantitative (P=0.01) literacy.

Conclusion : Health literacy is lower in the rural population although this difference is explained by known confounders.

Keywords: health literacy; literacy; rural; urban

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1 Researcher II, Southern Illinois University School of Medicine, Springfield, IL.

Publication date: September 1, 2009

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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