Numeracy and Preventive Health Care Service Utilization among Middle-Aged and Older Adults in the U.S.

Takashi Yamashita, Anthony R. Bardo, Roberto J. Millar, Darren Liu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Objectives: Determine whether a specific numeracy skill cut-point(s) reflects an empirical threshold in the context of preventive health service utilization, and identify associations between numeracy and preventive health services utilization among middle-aged and older adults in the United States. Methods: A nationally representative sample (n = 2,989) of adults 45 years and older from the International Assessment of Adult Competencies (PIAAC) was analyzed. Binary logistic regression was used to examine the utilization of dental checkup, vision screening, influenza vaccination, and osteoporosis screening, using multiple numeracy level classifications. Results: A dichotomous classification of numeracy skill levels (low vs. moderate to high proficiency) was associated with dental checkup utilization, but vision screening, influenza vaccination, and osteoporosis screening. Conclusions: Middle-aged and older adults with sufficient numeracy skills are more likely to have had a dental check up in the past 12 months. Findings suggest that numeracy may be more relevant for long-term vs. short-term risk assessment in determining preventive health care service utilization. Clinical Implications: Two-level numeracy categories are recommended in preventive health contexts. Numeracy proficiency-sensitive risk communication by health care providers and education programs may enhance awareness of preventive health care and promote the utilization of specific preventive health service utilization among older adults.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)221-232
Number of pages12
JournalClinical Gerontologist
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 3 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018, © 2018 Taylor & Francis.


  • Aging
  • health literacy
  • prevention
  • quantitative literacy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Health(social science)
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Gerontology
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology


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