Health literacy in an adult dental research population: A pilot study

Richard D. Jackson, George J. Eckert

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

19 Scopus citations


Objective: The purpose of this investigation was to gather data concerning the level of health literacy in adults who frequently volunteer for our clinical research programs. Methods: A convenience sample of 99 adults was recruited from our database of subjects taking part in an ongoing series of investigations. Health literacy was measured using the Short Test of Functional Health Literacy in Adults (S-TOFHLA). Additional demographic and socioeconomic data were collected by means of a questionnaire. Results: The results indicated that 13 percent of the cohort of subjects scored in the "inadequate" or "marginal" categories as described by the criteria of the S-TOFHLA. Inadequate or marginal health literacy was associated with race, gender, and age. Unfortunately, the sample size was too small to determine the interaction of these variables. Conclusions: Dental faculty conducting clinical research investigations should be cognizant of the fact that a portion of adults, especially older adults, may have difficulty reading written instructions, informational letters of consent, prescriptions, and other documents. Researchers should make every effort to ensure that information provided in text form is provided in a manner that is easily understandable to the reader. Technical terminology and jargon should be avoided or if used, it should be explained in plain, simple language. If a potential subject is having difficulty, the investigator is obligated to take the additional time to educate the potential subject using alternative methods.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)196-200
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of public health dentistry
Issue number4
StatePublished - Sep 1 2008


  • Adult
  • Assessment
  • Health literacy
  • Informed consent statements
  • Literacy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Dentistry(all)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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