Does cohort matter in the association between education, health literacy and health in the USA?

November 6, 2013


  • Taka Yamashita
  • J. Scott Brown

Growing empirical evidence supports the generally positive relationship between education, health literacy and health outcomes. However, little is known about cohort in this relationship. This study examined the role of cohort defined by 10-year age period in the association between educational attainment, health literacy and self-rated health. The data were obtained from the 2003 National Assessment of Adult Literacy survey restricted file. Focusing on nationally representative community-dwelling adults age 25 years and older, self-rated health was modeled as a function of health literacy, educational attainment, cohorts (defined by 10-year age periods), other demographic characteristics and socio-economic status. While the youngest cohort was positively associated with self-rated health, middle-age cohorts were more likely to have lower self-rated health (compared with the age 65 years and older cohort). Interestingly, age was no longer statistically significant after adjusting for cohort and other covariates. Recognition of possible cohort effects in education, health literacy and health should be reflected in future health literacy research and intervention programs for addressing health disparities in the USA.

Health Promot Int, 32 (1), 16-24. doi:

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  • Education
  • Health/Physical Activity