Institutional members access full text with Ovid®

Share this article on:

Understanding the Health Literacy of America: Results of the National Assessment of Adult Literacy

Cutilli, Carolyn Crane; Bennett, Ian M.

doi: 10.1097/01.NOR.0000345852.22122.d6
Patient Education Corner

Health literacy refers to an individual's ability to understand healthcare information to make appropriate decisions (Ratzen & Parker, 2000). Healthcare professionals are obligated to make sure that patients understand information to maximize the benefits of healthcare. The National Assessment of Adult Literacy (NAAL) provides information on the literacy/health literacy levels of the U.S. adult population. The NAAL is the only large-scale survey of health literacy. The results of the NAAL provide information on literacy/health literacy and the relationship between background variables and literacy/health literacy. Multiple variables with potential for a relationship with literacy/health literacy were chosen for the NAAL including, but not limited to, education, language, race, gender, income, overall health, seeking health information, and health insurance.

Carolyn Crane Cutilli, MSN, RN, ONC, CRRN, Doctoral Student, School of Nursing, Duquesne University, Pittsburgh, PA.

Ian M. Bennett, MD, PhD, Assistant Professor, Department of Family Medicine and Community Health and Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, Philadelphia.

Health Literacy: For more than 16 additional continuing nursing education articles related to the topic of education, go to

Dr. Bennett is supported by a grant from the NIH-NICHD (1K23HD048915-01A2).

© 2009 National Association of Orthopaedic Nurses