Objectives: To examine adults' literacy proficiencies in multiple health contexts.
Methods: One hundred ninety-one (191) health-related items drawn from all large-scale adult literacy surveys before 2003 were scored as an independent health literacy scale. Latent class analyses provide portraits of adults with different health literacy skills.
Results: Adults without a high school diploma or GED, with health-related restrictions, with limited access to resources, who are members of minority population groups, and who are immigrants - have lower health literacy skills than do others.
Conclusions: The distribution of health literacy is not independent of general literacy skills at population or subpopulation levels.