Characterizing Health Literacy and Its Correlates among Individuals with Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI): A TBI Model Systems Study

Angelle M. Sander, Monique R. Pappadis, Shannon B. Juengst, Luis Leon-Novelo, Esther Ngan, John D. Corrigan, Laura E. Dreer, Simon Driver, Anthony H. Lequerica

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Objective: To characterize health literacy among individuals with traumatic brain injury (TBI) at least a year postinjury and to explore its relationship to sociodemographic variables, injury severity, and cognition. Setting: Community following discharge from inpatient rehabilitation. Participants: In total, 205 individuals with complicated mild to severe TBI who completed follow-up as part of a national longitudinal study of TBI and completed a web-based health literacy measure. Design: Multicenter, cross-sectional, observational study. Main Measures: Health Literacy Assessment Using Talking Touchscreen Technology. Results: Thirty-one percent of the sample demonstrated marginal/inadequate health literacy; 69% demonstrated adequate health literacy. A higher proportion of non-Hispanic White adults had adequate health literacy than non-Hispanic Black and Hispanic adults. Individuals with greater than a high school education were more likely to have adequate health literacy than those with a high school education or less. Better executive functioning performance was related to adequate health literacy. Better episodic memory performance was related to adequate health literacy, but only for those with complicated mild to moderate injury. Conclusions: A substantial proportion of individuals with TBI have marginal/inadequate health literacy, which may impact their understanding, appreciation, and use of health-related information and recommendations. While low health literacy may be preexisting, directly related to TBI, or a combination of both, it should be screened and considered by professionals when communicating with persons with TBI. Healthcare providers should tailor their communication approaches and presentation of health information, particularly for those with low health literacy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)95-102
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Head Trauma Rehabilitation
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 1 2024


  • health literacy
  • social determinants of health
  • traumatic brain injuries

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation
  • Rehabilitation
  • Clinical Neurology


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