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psc brown bag iconMeasuring Health Literacy in the Health and Retirement Study

Helen Levy (Institute for Social Research, School of Public Health and Gerald Ford School of Public Policy)

11/21/2011, at noon in room 6050 ISR-Thompson.

Health literacy is the ability to understand and process information needed to make good decisions about health. A number of studies have shown that different measures of health literacy are important predictor of health outcomes; but we know very little about what these variables are actually measuring, since health literacy has been measured in studies that have limited populations, very few other covariates, and/or data that are not publicly available. This presentation will focus on early findings from an experimental module on health literacy included in the 2010 Health and Retirement Study. The module included a subset of questions from existing measures of health literacy, including the Short Test of Functional Health Literacy in Adults (S-TOFHLA) and the Rapid Estimate of Adult Literacy in Medicine (REALM). The presentation will address how these measures of health literacy vary with education, income, general cognitive ability, and demographic characteristics as well as how well they predict health outcomes after controlling for these other characteristics.


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