Research and Reports


October 17, 2016

Hello Literacy Colleagues,

While the Internet access digital divide, including for adult basic skills learners, appears to be narrowing, we still have the digital use divide. This plays out, for example, when adult learners need to apply online for jobs, benefits, or college financial aid; or when they need to communicate with their children's teachers. Now there is research evidence that there is a digital divide in health literacy.

A new health literacy study concludes that "About half of Americans have low health literacy and struggle to find and use health information, which is associated with negative outcomes, including overall poorer health. Health information technology (IT) can be used to make health information directly available to patients via electronic tools, such as patient portals, wearable technology, and mobile apps." The study in Journal of Medical Internet Research "found that the use of health IT, such as fitness and nutrition apps, activity trackers, and patient portals, are significantly associated with improved health literacy, but patients with low health literacy were less likely to use health IT tools or perceive them as easy or useful. The study also explored whether health literacy is associated with patients’ perceived ease of use and usefulness of these health IT tools, as well as patients’ perceptions of privacy as offered by health IT, and trust in media, government, technology companies, and healthcare."

There was a period, in my state and a few others, when state agencies funded adult basic education programs to increase adult learners' health literacy but, as far as I know, that funding no longer exists. Do you have funding in your state to support health literacy in adult basic education programs? The overwhelming emphasis of public funding on college and career readiness seems to me to have eclipsed the need to address family literacy and individual and family health literacy.

Perhaps with the new WIOA legislation, and its Title II  emphasis on the importance of the provision of digital literacy, there will be opportunities for state adult education agencies and programs to newly support health literacy as part of digital literacy. I wonder if anyone is seeing evidence of that yet. I also wonder if programs have been seeking funding from charitable foundations and the United Way for these important aspects of adult basic skills education, to address the digital use divide and health literacy divide together, for adult basic skills learners. If so, please let us (or me) know about them.

David J. Rosen

America's Divided Recovery

Over 95 percent of jobs created during the recovery have gone to workers with at least some college education, while those with a high school diploma or less are being left behind. America’s Divided Recovery: College Haves and Have-Nots reveals that those with at least some college education have captured 11.5 million of the 11.6 million jobs created during the recovery. While jobs are back, they are not the same jobs lost during the recession. The Great Recession decimated low-skill blue-collar and clerical jobs, whereas the recovery added primarily high-skill managerial and professional jobs. Learn more...

How More Education Could Save a Half-Million Lives, by NPR

The connection between education levels and health has been well-documented, and, this study found, it's growing in recent generations.
Getting a high school diploma is as good for health as quitting smoking. That's the finding from a study released by researchers at the University of Colorado, New York University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. They found that if every adult high school dropout in the 2010 population had a GED or a regular diploma, 145,243 deaths could be averted. Similarly, 110,068 deaths could be avoided for that year if every adult who already had some college finished their bachelor's degrees. And if everyone in the population got a bachelor's degree, the total untimely deaths would be reduced by 554,525.  Read the details here