Background: Socioeconomic status is a strong correlate of health status. Low literacy is associated with barriers to health information and anxiety about disease.
Methods: Using 2003 Health Information National Trends Survey data, the relationship between self-reported health status and proxy measures of literacy (Hispanic ethnicity, education, and media variables), cancer anxiety, and cancer information seeking were assessed.
Results: Low literacy, measured by proxy variables, was associated with a greater likelihood of reporting fair-poor health status. Reporting excellent-good health status was less likely for people reporting frustration finding cancer information (odds ratio [OR] 0.68, 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.52-0.89), worry about cancer (OR 0.56, 95% CI 0.35-0.89), and increased chance of getting cancer (OR 3.5, 95% CI 0.24-0.51).
Conclusion: Proxy variables for literacy suggest a possible contribution to health status disparities.