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Tenn Med. 2008 May;101(5):35-9.

Relationship between health literacy and health-related quality of life among Tennesseans.

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  • 1University of Tennessee Graduate School of Medicine, Department of Family Medicine, Knoxville 37920, USA.


The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship between health literacy and health-related quality of life (HRQOL) in a sample of English-speaking Tennesseans attending a university-based family medicine residency clinic. We measured the health literacy skills of patients (n = 249) using the Rapid Estimate of Adult Literacy in Medicine (REALM), dividing patients' scores into limited (< or = 8th-grade level) and adequate (> or = 9th-grade) literacy skill levels. We measured HRQOL using four items developed and validated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Scores on the REALM indicated that 28.5 percent of patients had limited and 71.5 percent had adequate health literacy skills. There was a significant correlation between patients' health literacy skills and self-reported general health (rho = 0.249, P < 0.01). Patients with limited health literacy skills had a higher median number of physically unhealthy days (P = 0.05) and activity limitation days (P = 0.05) compared with patients with adequate health literacy skills. Based on this study, patients' health literacy skills are associated with several components of HRQOL.

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