Health literacy in the urgent care setting: What factors impact consumer comprehension of health information

Publication Date


UMMS Affiliation

Graduate School of Nursing

Document Type



Health Communication | Health Services Administration | Health Services Research | Information Literacy | Nursing


BACKGROUND: An increasing number of Americans are using urgent care (UC) clinics due to: improved health insurance coverage, the need to decrease cost, primary care offices with limited appointment availability, and a desire for convenient care. Patients are treated by providers they may not know for episodic illness or injuries while in pain or not feeling well. Treatment instructions and follow-up directions are provided quickly.

PURPOSE: To examine health literacy in the adult UC population and identify patient characteristics associated with health literacy risk.

METHODS: As part of a larger cross-sectional study, UC patients seen between October 2013 and January 2014 completed a demographic questionnaire and the Newest Vital Sign. Descriptive, nonparametric analyses, and a multinomial logistic regression were done to assess health literacy, associated and predictive factors.

RESULTS: A total of 57.5% of 285 participants had adequate health literacy. The likelihood of limited health literacy was associated with increased age (p < .001), less education (p < .001), and lower income (p = .006).

CONCLUSIONS/IMPLICATIONS: Limited health literacy is common in a suburban UC setting, increasing the risk that consumers may not understand vital health information. Clear provider communication and confirmation of comprehension of discharge instructions for self-management is essential to optimize outcomes for UC patients.


Newest Vital Sign, Urgent care, advanced practice nurse, consumer health information, health literacy, nurse practitioners, patient education

DOI of Published Version



J Am Assoc Nurse Pract. 2017 May;29(5):242-247. doi: 10.1002/2327-6924.12452. Epub 2017 Mar 10. Link to article on publisher's site

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Journal of the American Association of Nurse Practitioners

Related Resources

Link to Article in PubMed

PubMed ID