Missouri Health Literacy Mapping Tool

CONCLUDED STUDY - conducted 2007-2010

More RAND Research on Health Literacy

A Prototype Interactive Mapping Tool to Target Low Health Literacy in Missouri

An estimated 36 percent of American adults have health literacy levels rated at basic or below basic, indicating that they have difficulty obtaining, processing, and understanding basic health information and services. Limited English proficiency and linguistic isolation add to this problem. Low health literacy (LHL) is thought to play a key role in racial/ethnic and socioeconomic disparities in health and health care.

How can this tool help stakeholders?

Many stakeholders recognize that achieving equity in the US health care system requires addressing challenges related to LHL. However, efforts to translate such evidence into cost-effective actions and interventions have been only marginally successful. Identifying geographic areas with large numbers of people with LHL is a promising new approach that can help stakeholders target interventions more efficiently and cost-effectively. Such population-based approaches are fast, relatively inexpensive, and support community-based interventions.

What exactly is this tool?

It is a prototype interactive web-based mapping tool to help healthcare decision makers in Missouri identify community-level "hotspots" of suboptimal health or healthcare that may be due to LHL. The tool generates color-coded maps to help stakeholders quickly visualize areas of LHL and poor quality care, and retrieve information about neighborhood characteristics and access to health services in their communities. The tool allows users to:

  • Select the level of geography of interest (e.g., census tract, county);
  • Map and get information for specific areas of interest;
  • Select the characteristics to be mapped (e.g., health literacy, care quality);
  • Generate tables and reports on the regions and characteristics of interest;
  • Import their own data into the tool;
  • Export data from the tool;
  • Save and print their projects.

What can stakeholders map with the tool?

  • Estimates of community-level health literacy
  • Health outcomes and care quality
  • Neighborhood sociodemographic characteristics
  • Neighborhood health services data

Prototype Interactive Mapping Tool

the interactive mapping tool

Use Tool

Funding for this tool and the supporting report was provided by the Missouri Foundation for Health.