SOURCE: Benenson Strategy Group (2001).
To understand the full impact of health literacy on America’s health system, we need to understand a wide array of information sources, information needs, information contexts, and communication complexity.
Many materials developed to provide health information fail to take into account the needs of the audiences for these materials. Rudd and colleagues (2000) reviewed studies of patient information materials, and found that disparities between the readability of education materials and patient reading level occurred in ambulatory care settings (Cooley et al., 1995; Davis et al., 1990), substance abuse treatment centers (Davis et al., 1993), and pediatric care settings (Davis et al., 1994). Similar findings are reported for patients with diabetes (Hosey et al., 1990), arthritis (Hill, 1997), and lupus (Hearth-Holmes et al., 1997). These studies found that the reading levels of groups of patients with these chronic diseases fell between grade levels 6 and 10, while the readability of the materials designed for them fell between grade levels 7 and 13.