This career development award proposes a program of training, data collection and research to advance knowledge in the area of health literacy and health disparities among the elderly. Specifically, the aims of this project are (1) to understand the relationship between measures health literacy and more general measures of cognition, such as memory and numeracy; (2) to estimate the relationship between health literacy, general cognition and health outcomes in a large and nationally-representative sample of older Americans; (3) to analyze the mechanisms through which health literacy and cognition affect health outcomes; (4) to analyze the role that health literacy plays in determining health disparities across racial, ethnic or socio-economic groups; (5) to explore similarities and differences between the concepts of health literacy and financial literacy, and compare the relationship between literacy and outcomes in both domains.
The research activities will be carried out through a program of primary data collection and secondary data analysis based on the Health and Retirement Study (HRS). The primary data collection consists of a module of questions on health literacy and health knowledge to be collected from a subset of respondents to the 2010 wave of the HRS. Analysis of the data will also be carried out with guidance from an interdisciplinary team of mentors.