Health literacy skills in rural and urban populations

Am J Health Behav. Sep-Oct 2009;33(5):550-7. doi: 10.5993/ajhb.33.5.8.


Objective: To determine whether health literacy is lower in rural populations.

Method: We analyzed health, prose, document, and quantitative literacy from the National Assessment of Adult Literacy study. Metropolitan Statistical Area designated participants as rural or urban.

Results: Rural populations had lower literacy levels for all literacy types (P<0.001 for each). After adjusting for known confounders, there was no longer a difference in health or prose literacy (P>0.05). However, rural populations had higher document (P=0.04) and quantitative (P=0.01) literacy.

Conclusion: Health literacy is lower in the rural population although this difference is explained by known confounders.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Educational Status
  • Female
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Rural Population
  • United States
  • Urban Population
  • Young Adult