Health Literacy: An Explanatory Bibliometric Analysis, 1997-2007 (BRIEF Communications) (Report)
INTRODUCTION As defined by the American Medical Association Foundation, health literacy is a “patient’s ability to obtain, process, and understand basic health information and services needed to make appropriate health decisions and follow instructions for treatment” . The 2003 National Assessment of Adult Literacy (NAAL) has identified three types of literacy: prose, document, and quantitative . Prose literacy–the ability to read and comprehend uninterrupted or parenthetical text (patient instructions)–and document literacy–the ability to search, read, and comprehend noncontinuous text (food and drug labels)-both come into play when decoding health information . NAAL research found that approximately 14% of adults in the United States read at the “below basic” prose literacy level and 12% of adults read at the “below basic” document literacy level . The NAAL also added a health literacy section to the 2003 assessment that measured adults’ ability to perform health-related reading tasks, such as following doctors’ instructions or reading medicine labels. The assessment found that 37% of adults had “basic” or “below basic” health literacy levels and that these scores generally tended to increase with educational levels attained .