plethora of health information and the arduous task of finding, selecting, reading, understanding, judging, and following the advice presented by multiple sources.

How People Obtain and Use Health Information

How do people obtain and use health information? There is no single reliable answer to this question. While data on health information alone is not available, responses of the National Adult Literacy Survey (NALS) participants indicated over half of individuals at each literacy skill level as measured by the NALS obtain information about current events, public affairs, and government from family and friends, newspapers and magazines, and radio and television (Kirsch et al., 1993). Between 62 and 69 percent of adults at all NALS literacy skill levels reported obtaining information from family and friends. Between 94 and 97 percent of adults at all NALS skill levels reported using radio or television to obtain information. Individuals in the lower literacy levels were less likely to use print media as an information source than were adults in the higher levels. While 69.5 percent of the respondents with NALS Level 1 literacy skills reported getting information from newspapers or magazines, 85.5 percent of adults with literacy skills at NALS Level 2 skills and 90 percent of those with literacy skills at or above NALS Level 3 reported obtaining information from newspapers or magazines.

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