181938 Measures of Health Literacy: The Current State of the Science

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Tam Hieu Nguyen, RN, MSN/MPH , School of Nursing, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD
Hee-Jung Song , Bloomberg school of public health, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD
Jong Eun Lee, PhD , College of Nursing, The Catholic University of Korea, Seoul, South Korea
Hae-Ra Han, RN, PhD , School of Nursing, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD
Miyong Kim, PhD , School of Nursing, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD
The purpose of this paper is to review and critically evaluate the current state of the science in health literacy measures- specifically as it relates to ethnic minority populations with limited English proficiency, a sub-group that has been known to be at high risk for limited health literacy proficiency.

To gain insight into those limitations, PubMed, PsycINFO and SCOPUS data-bases were searched for health literacy measurement studies from 1975-2007. Keywords used alone and in combination included: health literacy, instrument, measure, scale, assessment, tool. Additionally, reference lists of all eligible studies were reviewed and experts in the field were contacted. Health literacy measures were evaluated based on its psychometric properties, comprehensiveness, and cultural sensitivity.

There are 11 known measures of health literacy, four of which are shorten versions of an original measure. The psychometric properties of the measures varied (Cronbach's alpha = 0.57-0.98). None of the measures were comprehensive, measuring only three out the six dimensions of health literacy at best. Furthermore few are sensitive to people with limited English skills, and none have been translated into languages other than English and Spanish. These findings may result in faulty measures of health literacy, specifically among ethnic minority populations. Future work in health literacy instrumentations should focus on addressing those gaps.

Learning Objectives:
1. Identify three measures that are currently being used to assess health literacy. 2. Discuss two limitations to measuring health literacy among ethnic minority populations.

Keywords: Health Communications, Health Disparities

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have worked independently with my research team on the materials presented in this abstract, and have no conflicts of interest.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.