The causal pathways linking health literacy to health outcomes

  • Paasche-Orlow M
  • Wolf M
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Objective: To provide an evidence- based review of plausible causal pathways that could best explain well-established associations be- tween limited health literacy and health outcomes. Methods: Through analysis of current find- ings in medical and public health literature on health literacy we derived a conceptual causal model. Results: Health literacy should be viewed as both a patient and a system phenomenon. Three dis- tinct points along a continuum of health care are suggested to be influenced by health literacy: (1) access and utilization of health care, (2) patient-provider relation- ship, and (3) self-care. Conclusions: The conceptual model organizes what has been learned to date and underscores promising areas of fu- ture inquiry and intervention. Key words: causal pathways, health literacy, literacy, concep- tual model

Author-supplied keywords

  • causal pathways
  • concep-
  • health literacy
  • literacy

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  • MK Paasche-Orlow

  • Michael S Wolf

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