Objective: To evaluate utility of the newest vital sign (NVS) which can be completed in 3min compared to the short version test of functional literacy in adults (S-TOFHLA) that takes 7min for health literacy in the older African American patients.
Methods: We enrolled 62 older (age>65 years) African American patients and administered the NVS and the S-TOFHLA. A score of less than 4 for the NVS and less than 16 for the S-TOFHLA was indicative of limited health literacy.
Results: Mean age of our patients was 73.2+7.9 years with an average education level of twelfth grade. Using S-TOFHLA 51% of the subjects were deemed to be sufficiently literate, with a score of 23.0+8.6 compared to 56% on the NVS with a score of 3.0+1.9. The average time for completing the NVS was 11min in our patient population.
Conclusion: Based on our data, while health literacy level can be assessed with the NVS its practicality as a quick screening tool in the elderly population appears limited.
Practice implications: Knowing the level of patient's health literacy may help physicians deliver health information in the format that patients can understand.
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