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Improving health literacy helps diminish disparities

NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted June 29, 2009

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Being able to read a consent form or fill out a health insurance form could significantly improve the health of elderly adults who are less educated, according to a study in the May/June Annals of Family Medicine (link.

Researchers from the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine and other institutions analyzed health data from a national sample of 2,668 adults age 65 and older.

Older adults without a high school diploma were 2.4 times more likely to report poor health than those whose education went beyond high school.

However, researchers found that when health literacy, which was defined as the ability to use health information from any source to make appropriate health decisions, was taken into account, disparities on the health measures diminished.

Note: This item originally appeared at http://www.ama-assn.org/amednews/2009/06/29/prbf0629.htm.

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