Relationship of preventive health practices and health literacy: a national study

Am J Health Behav. May-Jun 2008;32(3):227-42. doi: 10.5555/ajhb.2008.32.3.227.


Objective: To identify relationships between the health literacy and self-reported preventive health practices of US adults.

Methods: Measured health literacy and preventive health practices for a nationally representative sample of adults (N = 18,100) and conducted probit regression analyses after controlling for age, gender, race/ethnicity, poverty level, insurance status, self-reported health status, and oral reading fluency.

Results: Low literacy was associated with a decreased likelihood of using most preventive health measures under study for adults aged 65 and older, but not for adults of 2 younger age groups.

Conclusion: The relationship between health literacy and preventive health practices varied substantially by adult age group.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Comprehension*
  • Educational Status
  • Female
  • Health Care Surveys
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Preventive Health Services / statistics & numerical data
  • Regression Analysis
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United States