Canadian adaptation of the newest vital sign©, a health literacy assessment tool

Elizabeth D. Mansfield, Rana Wahba, Doris E. Gillis, Barry D. Weiss, Mary L'Abbé

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


Objective: The Newest Vital Sign (NVS) was developed in the USA to measure patient health literacy in clinical settings. We adapted the NVS for use in Canada, in English and French, and created a computerized version. Our objective was to evaluate the reliability of the Canadian NVS as a self-administered computerized tool. Design: We used a randomized crossover design with a washout period of 3-4 weeks to compare health literacy scores obtained using the computerized version with scores obtained using the standard interviewer-administered NVS. ANOVA models and McNemars tests assessed differences in outcomes assessed with each version of the NVS and order effects of the testing. Setting: Participants were recruited from multicultural catchment areas in Ontario and Nova Scotia. Subjects: English- and French-speaking adults aged 18 years or older. Results: A total of 180 (81 %) of the 222 adults (112 English/110 French) initially recruited completed both the interviewer-NVS and computer-NVS. Scores for those who completed both assessments ranged from 0 to 6 with a mean of 363 (SD 211) for the computerized NVS and 341 (SD 221) for the interview-administered NVS. Few (n 18; seven English, eleven French) participants health literacy assessments differed between the two versions. Conclusions: Overall, the computerized Canadian NVS performed as well as the interviewer-administered version for assessing health literacy levels of Englishand French-speaking participants. This Canadian adaptation of the NVS provides Canadian researchers and public health practitioners with an easily administered health literacy assessment tool that can be used to address the needs of Canadians.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2038-2045
Number of pages8
JournalPublic Health Nutrition
Issue number11
StatePublished - 2018


  • Health literacy computerized assessment newest vital sign Canada

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Nutrition and Dietetics
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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