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Int J Public Health. 2009;54(5):313-24. doi: 10.1007/s00038-009-0058-2. Epub 2009 Jul 31.

The costs of limited health literacy: a systematic review.

Author information

1
Winterthur Institute of Health Economics (WIG), ZHAW Zurich University of Applied Sciences, Postfach 958, St. Georgenstrasse 70, 8401, Winterthur, Switzerland. eich@zhaw.ch

Abstract

OBJECTIVES:

To summarize evidence about (1) the costs of limited health literacy (HL) and (2) the cost-effectiveness of interventions to improve limited HL.

METHODS:

We performed a systematic review searching electronic databases and additional information resources. We included observational studies and interventional studies with HL-outcomes. We included populations at high risk for low HL and patients with (1) diabetes mellitus or (2) hyperlipidemia.

RESULTS:

We retrieved 2,340 papers and included 10 studies for analysis. The prevalence of limited HL is considerable (range 34-59%). On the health system level, the additional costs of limited HL range from 3 to 5% of the total health care cost per year. On the patient level, the additional expenditures per year per person with limited HL compared to persons with adequate HL range from US $143 to 7,798. Data on the cost-effectiveness of interventions to improve limited HL are scarce.

CONCLUSION:

The costs of limited HL may be substantial, but few studies were retrieved and the results are heterogeneous.

PMID:
19644651
PMCID:
PMC3785182
DOI:
10.1007/s00038-009-0058-2
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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