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National Assessment of Adult Literacy (NAAL)

Health Literacy -> Highlights of Findings

Following are highlights from The Health Literacy of America’s Adults:


Overall

Total Population: Number & Percentage of Adults in Each Health Literacy Level: 2003

  • A majority of adults had Intermediate heath literacy.
  • Over 75 million adults combined had Basic and Below Basic health literacy.
Total Population: Number & Percentage of Adults in Each Health Literacy Level: 2003

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Gender & Health Literacy

The average health literacy score for women was 6 points higher than the average health literacy score for men. A higher percentage of men (by a margin of 4 percentage points) than women had Below Basic health literacy.

Average health literacy scores of adults, by gender: 2003
Average health literacy scores of adults, by gender: 2003


NOTE: Adults are defined as people 16 years of age and older living in households or prisons. Adults who could not be interviewed because of language spoken or cognitive or mental disabilities (3 percent in 2003) are excluded from this figure.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Statistics, 2003 National Assessment of Adult Literacy.
  
Percentage of adults in each health literacy level, by gender: 2003
Percentage of adults in each health literacy level, by gender: 2003


NOTE: Detail may not sum to totals because of rounding. Adults are defined as people 16 years of age and older living in households or prisons. Adults who could not be interviewed because of language spoken or cognitive or mental disabilities (3 percent in 2003) are excluded from this figure.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Statistics, 2003 National Assessment of Adult Literacy.

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Age and Health Literacy

Adults in the oldest age group—age 65 and older—had lower average health literacy scores than adults in the younger age groups.

Average health literacy scores of adults, by age: 2003
Average health literacy scores of adults, by age: 2003


NOTE: Adults are defined as people 16 years of age and older living in households or prisons. Adults who could not be interviewed because of language spoken or cognitive or mental disabilities (3 percent in 2003) are excluded from this figure.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Statistics, 2003 National Assessment of Adult Literacy.
  
Percentage of adults in each health literacy level, by age: 2003
Percentage of adults in each health literacy level, by age: 2003


NOTE: Detail may not sum to totals because of rounding.Adults are defined as people 16 years of age and older living in households or prisons. Adults who could not be interviewed because of language spoken or cognitive or mental disabilities (3 percent in 2003) are excluded from this figure.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Statistics, 2003 National Assessment of Adult Literacy.

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Educational Attainment & Health Literacy

A higher percentage of adults who had not attended or completed high school had Below Basic health literacy than adults with higher level of education.

Percentage of adults in each health literacy level, by highest educational attainment: 2003
Percentage of adults in each health literacy level, by highest educational attainment: 2003


NOTE: Detail may not sum to totals because of rounding.Adults are age and older living in households or prisons. Adults who could not language spoken or cognitive or mental disabilities (3 percent in 2003)
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, Education Statistics, 2003 National Assessment of Adult Literacy.

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Health Literacy & Health Insurance Coverage

  • Adults who received health insurance through an employer had the highest average health literacy.
  • Adults who received Medicare or Medicaid and adults who had no health insurance had lower average health literacy than adults who were covered by other types of insurance.
Average health literacy scores of adults, by type of health insurance coverage: 2003
Average health literacy scores of adults, by type of health insurance coverage: 2003


NOTE: Adults are defined as people 16 years of age and older living in households. Adults who could not be interviewed because of language spoken or cognitive or mental disabilities (3 percent in 2003) are excluded from this figure. Adults who reported they had more than one type of health insurance are included in each applicable category in this figure.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Statistics, 2003 National Assessment of Adult Literacy.

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