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J Health Commun. 2011;16 Suppl 3:134-49. doi: 10.1080/10810730.2011.604383.

Applicability of internationally available health literacy measures in the Netherlands.

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  • 1Department of Public Health, Amsterdam Medical Centre, University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.


Health literacy measures for use in clinical-epidemiological research have all been developed outside Europe. In the absence of validated Dutch measures, we evaluated the cross-cultural applicability of the Rapid Estimate of Adult Literacy in Medicine (REALM), the Newest Vital Sign (NVS), the Set of Brief Screening Questions (SBSQ), and the measure of Functional Communicative and Critical Health Literacy (FCCHL). Each measure was translated into Dutch following standardized procedures. We assessed feasibility, internal consistency, and construct validity among patients with coronary artery disease (n = 201) and patients with diabetes type 2 (n = 88). Patients expressed most problems in responding to the NVS-D. They were not familiar with the type of food label and had difficulties calculating in portions instead of grams. The FCCHL-D items seemed too theoretical for many patients. Cronbach's alpha was acceptable for all measures. Correlation patterns between the measures were moderately coherent with a priori hypotheses. All translated measures were able to distinguish between high- and low-educated groups of patients, with the NVS-D performing best. Despite reasonable psychometric properties as demonstrated so far, these measures need to be further developed in order to increase applicability for assessing health literacy in clinical-epidemiological research in the Netherlands.

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