Electronic Theses and Dissertations



Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Health Systems & Policy

Committee Chair

SangNam Ahn

Committee Member

Kristoffer Berlin

Committee Member

Aram Dobalian

Committee Member

Meredith Ray


Health literacy, an individuals ability to access and process health information to make health decisions, is an understudied topic among adolescents and young adults. Low health literacy potentially increases negative health outcomes such as chronic diseases, substance use, and overuse of health care services later in young adulthood. Understanding health literacy throughout the life course presents opportunity to decreases low health literacy, the associated negative health outcomes, and the onus its puts on society and the healthcare system. This dissertation aims to assess health literacy development during adolescent years with theoretical constructs geared towards health literacy development along with social and environmental factors. Adolescent health literacy geographic disparities are also explored. In addition, adolescent health literacy is assessed across specific time points during adolescence and young adulthood. The changes in health literacy from adolescence to young adulthood is evaluated along with changes in preventive service use during young adulthood. Data from the National Longitudinal Survey of Youth 1997 cohort (NLSY97) and the County and City Databook are used to evaluate the development of adolescent health literacy, geographic disparities in adolescent health literacy, and the associations of adolescent health literacy with preventive service use, health behaviors, and health outcomes. This research provides an assessment of adolescent health literacy at the national level and addresses important research gaps for understanding adolescent health literacy development, the geographic proportion of adolescent health literacy and, preventive service use over time. It also provides supporting evidence for health literacy changes throughout the life course. The results have implications for policies that address health literacy development and disparities among adolescents.


Data is provided by the student.

Library Comment

Dissertation or thesis originally submitted to ProQuest