The relationship between literacy and health.

B. D. Weiss, G. Hart, R. E. Pust

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

84 Scopus citations


In non-industrialized countries, populations with the lowest literacy rates have the poorest health status. In the United States, however, there is no published research on whether illiteracy, independently of other sociodemographic factors, is related to health status. There are numerous plausible mechanisms by which such a relationship could occur. For example, published reports indicate that most information handouts, consent forms, and other materials for patients are written at reading levels too difficult for most American adults. These and other findings may have important implications in the health care of underserved populations. Research is needed to determine the health effects of impaired literacy skills among Americans, and to develop non-literacy-dependent methods for providing patient education, obtaining informed consent, and administering diagnostic tests.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)351-363
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of health care for the poor and underserved
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1991

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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