Using the "Newest Vital Sign" to assess health literacy in children

Martha Driessnack, Sophia Chung, Elena Perkhounkova, Maria Hein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

54 Scopus citations


Introduction: The purpose of this study was to explore the feasibility, utility, and validity of using the Newest Vital Sign (NVS) tool to assess health literacy in children. Method: Forty-seven parent-child dyads individually completed the NVS and a Home Literacy Environment single-item screening question (No. of children's books in the home). Results: The majority (72%; n = 34) of parent-child dyads had adequate health literacy (NVS scores ≥4), with no significant differences (p = .95) between children's NVS scores (M = 4.8, SD = 1.5) and parents (M = 4.8, SD = 1.6). A moderate, positive correlation was found between children's and parents' NVS scores (rs = .35, p = .017). Of note was that all of the parents (n = 4) and children (n = 6) who reported having only 10 or fewer children's books in their homes had NVS scores less than 4, indicating inadequate health literacy. Discussion: The NVS is a quick screening mechanism for identifying households that have adequate health literacy levels. Asking children the Home Literacy Environment single-question screening item (No. of children's books) provided additional insight that confirmed and extended findings from the NVS.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)165-171
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Pediatric Health Care
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2014


  • Children
  • Health literacy
  • Newest vital sign

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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