GSBS Dissertations and Theses

Publication Date


Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

Academic Program

Clinical and Population Health Research



First Thesis Advisor

Stephenie C. Lemon, PhD


Information Literacy, Research, Health Literacy, Minority Groups


Dissertations, UMMS; Information Literacy; Research; Health Literacy; Minority Groups


Background: Racial and ethnic minorities are under-represented participants in health-related research. Comprehension and understanding of the research process are a barrier to research participation. A potential approach to engaging underserved populations in research is through improving research literacy, which we define as “the capacity to obtain, process and understand basic information needed to make informed decisions about research participation.”

Methods: Through primary data collection and mixed-methods approaches, this doctoral thesis seeks to: 1) define and conceptualize the domains, determinants, and impacts of research literacy through the development of a multi-component comprehensive framework, 2) operationalize research literacy by developing and psychometrically testing the Research Literacy Scale, and 3) quantify differences in research literacy, measured by the Research Literacy Scale, by race/ethnicity, race-related factors, and other socio-demographic factors.

Results: We created a framework outlining eight domains of research literacy and multi-faceted influences of societal, community, researcher, and participant factors that may influence an individual’s level of research literacy. The Research Literacy Scale created is comprised of 16 items, with a KR-20 estimate of 0.81 and test-retest reliability of 0.84. We found differences in mean scale scores by race/ethnicity, age, education, income, and health literacy (all p < 0.01). African-Americans and Latinos have lower research literacy scores, as compared to non-Latino Whites. Race-consciousness was associated with research literacy score.

Conclusions: This study is the first to define, assess, and quantify factors associated with research literacy in a diverse community sample and may provide insights on approaches to enhance minority engagement in health-related research.



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