Studies reveal high levels of inadequate health literacy and numeracy in African Americans and older veterans. The authors aimed to investigate the distribution of health literacy, numeracy, and graph literacy in these populations. They conducted a cross-sectional survey of veterans receiving outpatient care and measured health literacy, numeracy, graph literacy, shared decision making, and trust in physicians. In addition, the authors compared subgroups of veterans using analyses of covariance. Participants were 502 veterans (22-82 years). Low, marginal, and adequate health literacy were found in, respectively, 29%, 26%, and 45% of the veterans. The authors found a significant main effect of race qualified by an age and race interaction. Inadequate health literacy was more common in African Americans than in Whites. Younger African Americans had lower health literacy (p <.001), graph literacy (p <.001), and numeracy (p <.001) than did Whites, even after the authors adjusted for covariates. Older and younger participants did not differ in health literacy, objective numeracy, or graph literacy after adjustment. The authors found no health literacy or age-related differences regarding preferences for shared decision making. African Americans expressed dissatisfaction with their current role in decision making (p =.03). Older participants trusted their physicians more than younger participants (p =.01). In conclusion, African Americans may be at a disadvantage when reviewing patient education materials, potentially affecting health care outcomes.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Health(social science)
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
- Library and Information Sciences