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Health Literacy and Measurement of Text Difficulty

Kohut, Kaitlin (2019) Health Literacy and Measurement of Text Difficulty. Master's Thesis, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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Health literacy is an important determinant of health outcomes. Comprehension of written health materials (i.e. patient information brochures) is one aspect of health literacy. Measures currently being used to assess the difficulty of materials may not include all relevant text variables, leading to patients receiving written materials that are more difficult to understand than their health care providers realize. Cohesion refers to how explicit the text is about relationships between concepts and previous research indicates that cohesion contributes to text difficulty. One study by Liu and colleagues (2009), indicated that text cohesion was related to comprehension of written health information for some but not all older adults. There is no evidence to date about the role cohesion may play in comprehension of written health information in readers of a wider age range. This study examined the relationship between cohesion and comprehension of written health information.

A within-subject design was used. Subjects read two health-related texts varying in cohesion (high or low), on different topics counter balanced across participants. Readers answered comprehension questions about the texts, and the data was analyzed with respect to the effect of cohesion on text comprehension. Results indicate that text cohesion and readers’ familiarity with the topic interact to affect comprehension of written health information.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Kohut, KaitlinKMK205@pitt.eduKMK205
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Thesis AdvisorDuff,
Committee ChairDickey,
Committee ChairLundblom,
Committee MemberNelson, J
Date: 4 June 2019
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 1 March 2019
Approval Date: 4 June 2019
Submission Date: 14 February 2019
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 70
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences > Communication Science and Disorders
Degree: MS - Master of Science
Thesis Type: Master's Thesis
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: health literacy, cohesion, comprehension, familiarity, written health information
Date Deposited: 04 Jun 2019 19:19
Last Modified: 04 Jun 2019 19:19


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