Tuesday, December 1, 2009
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Numeracy—the fluency of people with mathematical concepts and applications—is important in health\medical decision making and risk communication. Given no overarching theoretical framework to guide research and interventions on health numeracy, this paper puts forth an “information processing” theoretical framework based on six proposed critical functions of health numeracy and provides ways to move forward. The functions of numeracy include computation skills, motivation to seek numerical health information, interpretation of numerical meaning, assessment of likelihood and value, acceptance of numerical data, and influence on behavior change. Areas for future research include functions of numeracy, communication format for conveying quantitative information, intervention targets to assist comprehension and understanding, mechanisms of influence on the understanding and application of quantitative information, and situational determinants or moderators of numeracy.