Assessing the Impact of Military Service on Patient Health Literacy in an Otolaryngology Clinic

Danielle A Morrison, Charles A Riley, Anthony M Tolisano

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVE: To examine the impact of military service on health literacy.

STUDY DESIGN: Prospective, cross-sectional study.

SUBJECTS AND METHODS: The validated Brief Health Literacy Screen (BHLS) with military supplement was administered to sequential adult patients (military and civilian) treated at two outpatient academic military otolaryngology clinics between November and December 2019. Inadequate health literacy, defined by a BHLS score ≤9, was the primary outcome measure. Secondary outcome measures included comparisons of inadequate BHLS scores with patient demographics and history of military service.

RESULTS: Three hundred and eighty-two patients were evaluated during the study period. The median age was 48-57 years, with a majority being male (230, 60.2%), White (264, 69.1%), married (268, 70.2%), and active duty military (303, 79.3%). A minority reported history of PTSD (39, 13%) or traumatic brain injury (29, 9.6%). Overall, very few subjects (10, 2.6%) demonstrated inadequate health literacy. Patients with prior (1.6% vs 6.3%, P < .05) or current (0% vs 5.0%, P < .05) military service had lower rates of inadequate health literary as compared to civilians. Gender, race, marital status, history of PTSD, and history of traumatic brain injury did not significantly impact health literacy. In a multivariate regression model exploring history of military service, age was not predictive of inadequate health literacy.

CONCLUSIONS: Both history of and current military service predict higher health literacy rates for patients treated at military otolaryngology clinics. Widely accessible health care and mandatory health evaluations for service members to maintain deployment readiness may contribute to this finding but warrant additional study.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e333-e338
JournalMilitary Medicine
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - 4 Jan 2023


  • Adult
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Female
  • Military Personnel
  • Health Literacy
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Prospective Studies
  • Otolaryngology
  • Brain Injuries, Traumatic
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic


Dive into the research topics of 'Assessing the Impact of Military Service on Patient Health Literacy in an Otolaryngology Clinic'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this