Impact of older adults’ reading ability on the comprehension and recall of cholesterol information

Margaret V. Pepe, Wojtek J. Chodzko-Zajko

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This research examined the relationship between reading ability, comprehension, and recall of information following exposure to a cholesterol education program. The sample consisted of 20 low-income, inner-city dwelling seniors aged 61-78 years. Each subject visited the laboratory three times; on the first visit, blood was drawn and subjects were pretested on cholesterol knowledge and the Rapid Estimate of Adult Literacy in Medicine (REALM) was administered. Two weeks later, subjects returned to receive their blood test results; they also viewed a videotaped cholesterol education program and were tested on comprehension and recall posttest 1; one month later, posttest 2 was administered. Subjects answered 62 percent of the cholesterol knowledge questions correctly on pretest. Immediately after viewing the cholesterol education program, subjects answered 77 percent of posttest questions correctly. One month later, knowledge score remained elevated (72 percent). ANOVA revealed significant differences in cholesterol knowledge between “good” readers vs. “poor” readers at pretest (70 percent vs. 57 percent), posttest 1 (79 percent vs. 63 percent), and posttest 2 (75 percent vs. 54 percent). In addition, reading ability positively correlated with cholesterol knowledge at pre- and both posttests. These data suggest a moderately strong positive correlation between reading ability and cholesterol knowledge. The authors recommend that all health education materials be evaluated to ensure appropriateness for older adults with low literacy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)21-27
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Health Education
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1997
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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