Introduction: Limited health literacy can impede adherence to cancer screening guidelines. This problem transcends sociocultural boundaries; however, Hispanics are more likely to have limited health literacy than other racial/ethnic groups in the U.S. The purpose of this study is to explore health literacy at a conceptual level in Hispanic adults residing in Northeast Texas in order to better understand this population's communication needs related to cancer prevention. Methods: Focus group methodology and the Spanish-language version of the Newest Vital Sign (NVS-S) were used to gather data. Results: Of the 18 individuals who sat for the NVS-S, 6 were classified as having a high likelihood of limited literacy, 4 as possibly having limited literacy, and the other 8 as having adequate literacy. The participants had limited cancer-specific knowledge and marginal numeracy skills, both of which play an integral role in understanding cancer prevention materials. Engagement in preventive behaviors may be negatively associated with attitudes of cancer fatalism and external locus of control. Conclusion: Generalized public health messages or clinical information may not be adequate to motivate individuals of this population to engage in cancer prevention. Therefore, addressing all of the components of health literacy via targeted communication that is developed with their health literacy skills in mind in both the clinical and public health arenas could benefit local Hispanics through their increased engagement in cancer prevention behavior and subsequently better health outcomes.

Date of publication

Spring 5-7-2014

Document Type




Persistent identifier