Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Many Americans Lack Health Literacy

The National Academies | Science in the Headlines | Many Americans Lack Health Literacy:

"Only 12 percent of American adults could easily navigate the healthcare system, according to a new assessment from the National Center for Education Statistics. More than half of the participants understand basic health instructions though, such as reading medication labels for dosage.

The assessment tested more than 19,000 adults, ages 16 and older. Women and people with higher levels of education consistently scored higher, and adults who received health insurance through an employer had the highest average health literacy. Participants older than 65 had lower health literacy scores than younger participants.

The Institute of Medicine report Health Literacy: A Prescription to End Confusion found that nearly half of all American adults have difficulty understanding and using health information, and there is a higher rate of hospitalization and use of emergency services among patients with limited health literacy."

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