Document Type


Publication Date

January 2009


Citation analysis, Health numeracy, Health education


A topic search of the Web of Science (WoS) database using the term “numeracy” produced a bibliography of 293 articles, reviews and editorial commentaries (Oct 2008). The citation graph of the bibliography clearly identifies five benchmark papers (1995-2001), four of which developed numeracy assessment instruments. Starting with the 80 papers that cite these benchmarks, we identified a set of 25 papers (1995-2008) in which the medical research community reports the development and/or application of health-numeracy assessments. In all we found 10 assessment instruments from which we have compiled a total of 48 assessment items. There are both general and context-specific tests, with the wide range in the latter illustrated by names such as the Diabetes Numeracy Test and the Asthma Numeracy Questionnaire. There is also a Medical Data Interpretation Test and a Subjective Numeracy Scale. Much of this literature discusses the validity and reliability of the test, and many papers include item-by-item results of the tests from when they were applied in the research reported in the papers. The research that used the tests was directed at exploring such subjects as the patients’ ability to evaluate risks and benefits in order to make informed decisions; to understand and carry out instructions in order to self-manage their medical conditions; and, in research settings, to understand what the researchers were asking in their assessments (e.g., quantified quality of life) that require comparison of numerical information. We present the collection of items as a potential resource for educators interested in numeracy assessments in context.