Identification of low levels of health literacy is important for effective communication between providers and clients. Assessment instruments for general health literacy are inadequate for use in nutrition education encounters because they do not identify nutrition literacy. The primary objective of this 2-part study was to assess content validity for the Nutrition Literacy Assessment Instrument (NLAI).
This study included a 35-item online survey of registered dietitians (134 of whom answered all questions) and a pilot study in which 5 registered dietitians used the NLAI among 26 clients during nutrition education consultations. To assess agreement with the NLAI by survey participants, we used the following scale: “necessary” (70% agreement), “adequate” (80% agreement), or “good” (90% agreement); comments were analyzed by using content analysis. For the pilot, we made comparisons between subjective assessments, the Rapid Estimate of Adult Literacy in Medicine (REALM), and the NLAI. Registered dietitians also completed a postpilot–study survey.
For the online survey, we found good agreement (average, 89.7%) for including each section of the NLAI. All sections accomplished their purpose (average, 81.5%). For the pilot, REALM and NLAI correlation ( r = 0.38) was not significant; the subjective assessment of clients by dietitians and NLAI lacked agreement 44% of the time, and registered dietitians provided instruction on deficient knowledge and skills identified by the NLAI 90% of the time.