Understanding health literacy measurement through eye tracking

Michael Mackert, Sara E. Champlin, Keryn E. Pasch, Barry D. Weiss

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


This study used eye-tracking technology to explore how individuals with different levels of health literacy visualize health-related information. The authors recruited 25 university administrative staff (more likely to have adequate health literacy skills) and 25 adults enrolled in an adult literacy program (more likely to have limited health literacy skills). The authors administered the Newest Vital Sign (NVS) health literacy assessment to each participant. The assessment involves having individuals answer questions about a nutrition label while viewing the label. The authors used computerized eye-tracking technology to measure the amount of time each participant spent fixing their view at nutrition label information that was relevant to the questions being asked and the amount of time they spent viewing nonrelevant information. Results showed that lower NVS scores were significantly associated with more time spent on information not relevant for answering the NVS items. This finding suggests that efforts to improve health literacy measurement should include the ability to differentiate not just between individuals who have difficulty interpreting and using health information, but also between those who have difficulty finding relevant information. In addition, this finding suggests that health education material should minimize the inclusion of nonrelevant information.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)185-196
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Health Communication
Issue numberSUPPL. 1
StatePublished - Dec 4 2013

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Communication
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Library and Information Sciences


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