Evaluation of Gender and Health Literacy

Student Author(s)

Deborah Working

Faculty Mentor(s)

Susanne Brooks, MSN, RN, AOCNS, AACNS-AG1 and Donna Garrett, MSN2 (1Spectrum Health, and 2Hope College Department of Nursing)

Document Type


Event Date



More than one third of adults have limited health literacy in the United States. Poor health literacy is associated with higher rates of hospitalization and mortality, and therefore plays a significant role in the outcomes of patients. The purpose of this research project was to evaluate the correlation between gender and health literacy scores. The theoretical framework used was the Health Literacy Framework. The methodology of the project was an interview style survey. This prospective, descriptive study compared gender, the Newest Vitals Sign, and the Short Test of Functional Literacy in Adults (STOFHLA). The randomized sample size was 148 patients who are 18 years of age or older, alert and oriented, English speaking, and capable of giving informed consent from several inpatient medical/surgical units of a hospital in the Midwest. Frequency, correlation, and independent sample t-tests were used to analyze the data with the statistical software SPSS version 19. The conclusions of this study are that the results were only statistically significant, and not clinically significant, as the mean score for each gender fell within the same health literacy range. This indicates that gender is not a useful clinical predictor of health literacy proficiency. Limitations of this study were a lack of diversity, which decreases the generalizability of the study, and a small sample size. Implications of this research may allow nurses insight into how gender relates to health literacy, guide future research, and to continue to develop appropriate nursing interventions.

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