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Relation of health literacy to gonorrhoea related care
  1. J D Fortenberry1,
  2. M M McFarlane2,
  3. M Hennessy2,
  4. S S Bull3,
  5. D M Grimley4,
  6. J St Lawrence2,
  7. B P Stoner5,
  8. N VanDevanter6
  1. 1Indiana University School of Medicine, Indianapolis, IN, USA
  2. 2Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA, USA
  3. 3Denver Public Health Department, University of Colorado at Denver, Denver, CO, USA
  4. 4School of Public Health, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, AL, USA
  5. 5Washington University, St Louis, MO, USA
  6. 6Columbia University, New York, NY, USA
  1. J Dennis Fortenberry, MD, MS, Riley Outpatients, Garage, Room 070 575 North, West Drive, Indianapolis, IN 46202, USA jfortenb{at}


Objective: To assess the relation between health literacy and receipt of a screening test for gonorrhoea in the past year.

Methods: Study design was multisite, cross sectional survey of subjects enrolled from clinics, from community based organisations, and by street intercept. Data were obtained using face to face interview. The dependent variable was self reported receipt of a test for gonorrhoea in the past year. Health literacy was measured by the Rapid Estimate of Adult Literacy in Medicine (REALM), recoded to represent 8th grade or lower reading or 9th grade and higher reading level. Statistical analyses were adjusted to account for selection bias in literacy assessment.

Results: 54% of the sample reported at least one gonorrhoea test in the previous year. 65% of the sample read at a 9th grade level or higher. REALM score was moderately correlated with the respondent's years of education. After adjustment for missing REALM data, past suspicion of gonorrhoea, self inspection for gonorrhoea, self efficacy for care seeking, REALM score of 9th grade reading level or higher, and younger age were independently associated with gonorrhoea testing in the previous year. For the average respondent, REALM reading grade level of 9th grade or higher is associated with a 10% increase in the probability of having a gonorrhoea test in the past year.

Conclusions: Low literacy appears to pose a barrier to care for sexually transmitted infections such as gonorrhoea.

  • literacy
  • care seeking behaviour
  • gonorrhoea

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