Nearly one-fourth of US population has low health literacy: 5 findings

Megan Knowles - Print  | 

Almost a quarter of the U.S. population —23.3 percent — has low health literacy, meaning they struggle when reading or understanding healthcare-related information, according to a national health survey by Professional Research Consultants.

To compile findings on health literacy, PRC gathered data from a random sample of 1,000 Americans interviewed through phone and internet surveys.

Here are five findings from the survey.  

1. Only 58 percent of the population with low health literacy have a steady source of medical care. That percentage falls far below the Healthy People 2020 objective of 95 percent and below the national average of 74 percent, according to PRC.

2. Additionally, 28 percent of individuals with low health literacy rate their physical health as "fair" or "poor," compared to 18 percent of the general population.

3. Nearly one-fourth (23.5 percent) of individuals with low health literacy rate their mental health as "fair" or "poor," compared to 15.5 percent of the general population.

4. Nearly twice as many individuals with low health literacy (26.2 percent) rate local healthcare services available to them as "fair" or "poor," compared to the general population (14.2 percent). 

5. When compared to their demographic counterparts, men, Latinos, low income individuals, people with high school education or less, and people who are unemployed have lower health literacy.

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