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The Concept of Health Literacy Within the Older Adult Population

Oldfield, Scott R. MSN, CRNP; Dreher, H. Michael PhD, RN

doi: 10.1097/HNP.0b013e3181e90253

Health literacy is a relatively new concept that has been evolving at a rapid pace over the past decade. As recently as 2004, nursing researchers were contributing only a small portion of the existing body of knowledge as it related to the concept of health literacy. But in the last 4 to 5 years, this trend has changed. More interest demonstrated by nursing scholars has caused an exponential increase in the literature being produced. The research to date has shown a direct correlation between low health literacy and poor health. Older adults have been identified as a vulnerable population with an estimated two-thirds of US adults aged 60 and older having inadequate or marginal literacy skills. A concept analysis of health literacy in the older adult population is warranted at this time to further clarify the concept and provide standard terminology and definitions for future holistic nursing practice and research, leading to better identification of health-literacy deficits and intervention within vulnerable populations.

Drexel University College of Nursing and Health Professions, Philadelphia and Vascular and Endovascular Surgery, Geisinger Medical Center, Danville, Pennsylvania.

Correspondence: Scott R. Oldfield, MSN, CRNP, 428 Ave C, Danville, PA 17821 (;

© 2010 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.