Feasibility of health literacy tools for older patients in the emergency department

Matthew J. McGuinness, Joshua Bucher, James Karz, Carla Pardee, Laryssa Patti, Pamela Ohman-Strickland, Jonathan V. McCoy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Introduction: This study evaluates the feasibility of using a volunteer research associate (RA) to administer two separate health literacy assessment tools in the emergency department (ED), specifically in an older population of patients. The outcomes measured were administration time and interruptions. Methods: Using a prospective, cross-sectional study with a convenience sample, adult patients over the age of 55 presenting between June-August 2018 to one urban, academic ED were evaluated by a volunteer RA using either the Newest Vital Sign (NVS) or the Short Assessment of Health Literacy (SAHL). All patients 55 years of age or older who consented to participate were included. We excluded from this study the following: patients with dementia or other disability involving reading, speech, or cognitive function, as noted in their medical record or by their attending physician; prisoners; and those subjectively deemed in extremis or too ill to participate by their attending physician. Results: Health literacy was assessed in 202 patients using either the NVS or SAHL. Mean time of administration was 214.0 seconds for the NVS, and 206.8 for the SAHL. The maximum time of administration for the NVS was 563 seconds, compared to 607 seconds for the SAHL. We found that 95.2% of NVS and 93.9% of SAHL tests incurred no interruptions during administration. Conclusion: No significant difference was found between the length of time needed to administer the NVS or SAHL to older patients in the ED. Both tools averaged an administration time of around three to four minutes, and neither incurred regular interruptions to its administration by a volunteer RA. Further study is needed to assess validity of these tools in an ED setting.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1270-1274
Number of pages5
JournalWestern Journal of Emergency Medicine
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Emergency Medicine


Dive into the research topics of 'Feasibility of health literacy tools for older patients in the emergency department'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this