Owen ManahanFollow


Health Studies


Cohen, Steven

Advisor Department

Honors Program




Public health; communication; data brief; video

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.


Health literacy refers to the ability to obtain, understand, and use health information to make good health decisions. Improving health outcomes in Rhode Island requires removing health literacy barriers.

In the spring of 2019, researchers at the University of Rhode Island and Rhode Island College received funding from the Rhode Island Executive Office of Health and Human Services to assess health literacy in Medicaid beneficiary outpatient health centers. Such research has never before been conducted in Rhode Island. Researchers administered a modified health literacy assessment to collect self-reported data on patient health status, measure patient confidence in accessing health information, measure patient confidence in making health decisions, and record patient feedback for improving cultural competence among medical providers. The data collection period was from April 2019 to March 2020; the research is ongoing.

I have served as an undergraduate research assistant since the project began. I have assisted the principal investigators in data collection, data entry, quantitative analysis, thematic analysis, and literature review. For my Honors Project, I developed health communication materials to support the translation of our findings into easily accessible information for healthcare providers and patients. I created two data briefs and one video.

Each data brief included general health literacy information, research project purpose and goals, data summary, key patient responses, and demographic information. One brief summarized information from our Providence Community Health Center sites; the second brief summarized information from our Thundermist Health Center sites.

A five-minute video was created to increase patients’ understanding of what the term ‘health literacy’ means. The video uses simple language, clear examples, and animation to provide a straightforward conceptualization of health literacy.