Low health literacy and poor health status in Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in Hawai'i

J Health Commun. 2011:16 Suppl 3:279-94. doi: 10.1080/10810730.2011.604390.


Health literacy is understudied in Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders (AA/PI). We used a population-based sample in Hawai'i to consider if low health literacy is associated with poor health outcomes in Japanese, Filipino, Native Hawaiians, and other AA/PI groups compared with Whites. In data weighted and adjusted for population undercounts and complex survey design, low health literacy varied significantly by group, from 23.9% among Filipinos, 20.6% in Other AA/PI, 16.0% in Japanese, 15.9% in Native Hawaiians, and 13.2% in Whites (χ(2) (4) = 52.22; p < .001). In multivariate models, low health literacy was significantly associated with (a) poor self-reported health in Japanese, Filipinos, Other AA/PI, and Whites; (b) diabetes in Hawaiians and Japanese; and (c) depression for Hawaiians. Low health literacy did not significantly predict overweight/obesity in any ethnic grouping in multivariate models. The design and relevance of health literacy interventions, as well as the pathways that link health literacy to health status, may vary by race/ethnicity, culture, and health outcomes.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Asian / psychology
  • Asian / statistics & numerical data*
  • Depression / ethnology*
  • Diabetes Mellitus / ethnology*
  • Educational Status
  • Female
  • Hawaii
  • Health Literacy / statistics & numerical data*
  • Health Status Disparities*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander / psychology
  • Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander / statistics & numerical data*
  • Overweight / ethnology*
  • White People / psychology
  • White People / statistics & numerical data
  • Young Adult