Evaluation of Screening Tools for Health Literacy in an Acute Care Setting

Student Author(s)

Sarah Venlet

Faculty Mentor(s)

Susanne Brooks, MSN, RN, AOCNS (Spectrum Health); Susan Dunn, PhD, RN

Document Type


Event Date



Health literacy, the capacity of an individual to obtain and comprehend basic health information or services to make healthcare decisions, can impact re-hospitalization, healthcare costs, health behavior and self-care of patients. Approximately one third of Americans have inadequate health literacy levels, producing worse health outcomes, decreased use of preventative services, and medication non-adherence related to misunderstanding of their health condition. The purpose of this project was to describe the prevalence of patients with limited health literacy in acute care settings, as affected by age. Dorothea Orem’s SelfCare Deficit Nursing Theory guided the study, which assumes that a person’s knowledge of health problems (health literacy) is necessary for promoting self-care behaviors. Data collection followed a prospective, descriptive design using three tools: a health literacy assessment questionnaire, Newest Vital Sign, and Short Test of Functional Health Literacy in Adults, which were administered by student researchers and other research team members in the patient’s hospital room. The 105 adult participants were randomly selected from the daily census of acute care units. Data collection took place in two metropolitan hospitals in one Midwest city. Data analysis was done using descriptive statistics via SPSS software. All tests were two-tailed with a significance level set at p<0.05 The study results indicate a moderate correlation between health literacy survey score and year of birth on all three instruments, with patients born 1945 or earlier having significantly lower literacy scores than those born 1946 or later. Limitations for this study include sampling from two hospitals in one city and lack of diversity of patient ethnicity. Results of this study will increase nurses’ knowledge of health literacy, be used to identify individuals at greatest risk for limited health literacy, and to further development of interventions to promote health literacy in acute care populations.

This document is currently not available here.