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Protocol - Health Literacy

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Description:

The Short Assessment of Health Literacy-English (SAHL-E) includes 18 interviewer-administered items designed to assess an English-speaking adult’s ability to read and understand common medical terms. The test could help health professionals estimate the adult’s health literacy level. The interviewer shows the respondent a series of laminated 4” x 5” flash cards, with each card containing a medical term printed in boldface on the top and the two association words (i.e., the key and the distracter) at the bottom. Responses are summed to achieve the total SAHL-E score. A score less than or equal to 14 represents the cutoff point for low health literacy, or low health-related reading ability. An additional health literacy screening question, useful for surveys with space constraints, asks how confident the respondent is in completing medical forms.

Specific Instructions:

Administration of the Short Assessment of Health Literacy-English is facilitated by using laminated 4” x 5” flash cards, with each card containing a medical term printed in boldface on the top and the two association words (i.e., the key and the distracter) at the bottom.

Protocol:

Short Assessment of Health Literacy-English (SAHL-E)

Directions to the Interviewer:

  1. Before the test, the interviewer should say to the examinee: “I’m going to show you cards with 3 words on them. First, Id like you to read the top word out loud. Next, Ill read the two words underneath and Id like you to tell me which of the two words is more similar to or has a closer association with the top word. If you dont know, please say ‘I dont know. Dont guess.”

  1. Show the examinee the first card.

  1. The interviewer should say to the examinee: “Now, please, read the top word out loud.”

  1. The interviewer should have a clipboard with a score sheet to record the examinees answers. The clipboard should be held such that the examinee cannot see or be distracted by the scoring procedure.

  1. The interviewer will then read the key and distracter (the two words at the bottom of the card) and then say: “Which of the two words is most similar to the top word? If you dont know the answer, please say ‘I dont know.”

  1. The interviewer may repeat the instructions so that the examinee feels comfortable with the procedure.

  1. Continue the test with the rest of the cards.

  1. A correct answer for each test item is determined by both correct pronunciation and accurate association. Each correct answer gets one point. Once the test is completed, the interviewer should tally the total points to generate the SAHL-E score.

A score between 0 and 14 suggests the examinee has low health literacy.

Stem

Key or Distracter

  1. kidney

[ ] urine

[ ] fever

[ ] dont know

  1. occupation

[ ] work

[ ] education

[ ] dont know

  1. medication

[ ] instrument

[ ] treatment

[ ] dont know

  1. nutrition

[ ] healthy

[ ] soda

[ ] dont know

  1. miscarriage

[ ] loss

[ ] marriage

[ ] dont know

  1. infection

[ ] plant

[ ] virus

[ ] dont know

  1. alcoholism

[ ] addiction

[ ] recreation

[ ] dont know

  1. pregnancy

[ ] birth

[ ] childhood

[ ] dont know

  1. seizure

[ ] dizzy

[ ] calm

[ ] dont know

  1. dose

[ ] sleep

[ ] amount

[ ] dont know

  1. hormones

[ ] growth

[ ] harmony

[ ] dont know

  1. abnormal

[ ] different

[ ] similar

[ ] dont know

  1. directed

[ ] instruction

[ ] decision

[ ] dont know

  1. nerves

[ ] bored

[ ] anxiety

[ ] dont know

  1. constipation

[ ] blocked

[ ] loose

[ ] dont know

  1. diagnosis

[ ] evaluation

[ ] recovery

[ ] dont know

  1. hemorrhoids

[ ] veins

[ ] heart

[ ] dont know

  1. syphilis

[ ] contraception

[ ] condom

[ ] dont know

Health Literacy Screening Question

19. How confident are you filling out medical forms by yourself?

1[ ]Extremely  

2[ ]Quite a bit  

3[ ]Somewhat  

4[ ]A little bit  

5[ ]Not at all

Protocol Name from Source:

Short Assessment of Health Literacy-English (SAHL-E) and
Chew, L. D., et al. Brief questions to identify patients with inadequate health literacy. Fam Med, 2004

Availability:

Available

Personnel and Training Required

The interviewer must be trained to conduct personal interviews with individuals from the general population. The interviewer must be trained and found to be competent (i.e., tested by an expert) at the completion of personal interviews. The interviewer should be trained to prompt respondents further if a “don’t know” response is provided.

Equipment Needs

The PhenX Working Group acknowledges that these questions can be administered in a computerized or noncomputerized format (i.e., paper-and-pencil instrument). Computer software is necessary to develop computer-assisted instruments. The interviewer will require a laptop computer or handheld computer to administer a computer-assisted questionnaire.

Requirements
Requirement CategoryRequired
Major equipment No
Specialized training No
Specialized requirements for biospecimen collection No
Average time of greater than 15 minutes in an unaffected individual No
Mode of Administration

Interviewer-administered questionnaire

Life Stage:

Adult

Participants:

Adults

Selection Rationale

The Short Assessment of Health Literacy-English (SAHL-E) protocol was selected because of its good reliability and validity, ease of administration, endorsement by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, and availability in Spanish and English. An additional health literacy screening question from Chew, Bradley, and Boyko (2004) was added following the SAHL-E questionnaire.

Language

English, Spanish

Standards
StandardNameIDSource
Common Data Elements (CDE) Social Determinants of Health Short Assessment of Health Literacy-English Assessment Text 7263223 CDE Browser
Human Phenotype Ontology Language impairment HP:0002463 HPO
Derived Variables

None

Process and Review

The Expert Review Panel has not reviewed this measure yet.

Source

Short Assessment of Health Literacy-English

Lee, S.-Y. D., Stucky, B. D., & Lee, J. Y. (2010). Short assessment of health literacy–Spanish and English: A comparable test of health literacy for Spanish and English speakers. Health Services Research, 45(4), 1105–1120. Appendix SA6–SA7.

Health Literacy Screening Question

Chew, L. D., Bradley, K. A., & Boyko, E. J. (2004). Brief questions to identify patients with inadequate health literacy. Family Medicine, 36(8), 588–594. Appendix 1, question 14.

General References

Chew, L. D., Griffin, J. M., Partin, M. R., Noorbaloochi, S., Grill, J. P., Snyder, A., … Vanryn, M. (2008). Validation of screening questions for limited health literacy in a large VA outpatient population. Journal of General Internal Medicine, 23(5), 561–566. 

Nutbeam, D., McGill, B., & Premkumar, P. (2018). Improving health literacy in community populations: A review of progress. Health Promotion International, 33(5), 901–911.

Protocol ID:

270401

Variables:
Export Variables
Variable Name Variable IDVariable DescriptiondbGaP Mapping
Social Determinants of Health
Measure Name:

Health Literacy

Release Date:

May 11, 2020

Definition

This questionnaire is used to assess an adult’s health literacy level, the degree to which individuals have the capacity to obtain, process, and understand basic health information and services needed to make appropriate health decisions.

Purpose

This measure can be used to evaluate an individual’s health literacy level. Low health literacy is associated with not understanding health and disease information, difficulties following medical instructions and scheduling preventive and routine appointments, increased hospitalizations and medical costs, and ultimately higher mortality rates.

Keywords

Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, English Speakers, Health Literacy, Health Literacy Screening, National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, Short Assessment of Health Literacy-English (SAHL-E), Social Determinants of Health, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill