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The Causal Pathways Linking Health Literacy to Health Outcomes

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Objective : To provide an evidence-based review of plausible causal pathways that could best explain well-established associations between limited health literacy and health outcomes.

Methods : Through analysis of current findings in medical and public health literature on health literacy we derived a conceptual causal model.

Results : Health literacy should be viewed as both a patient and a system phenomenon. Three distinct points along a continuum of health care are suggested to be influenced by health literacy: (1) access and utilization of health care, (2) patient-provider relationship, and (3) self-care.

Conclusions : The conceptual model organizes what has been learned to date and underscores promising areas of future inquiry and intervention.

Keywords: causal pathways; conceptual model; health literacy; literacy

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: August 1, 2007

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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