Periodical Title

Journal of Adolescent and Family Health


University of Tennessee at Chattanooga

Place of Publication

Chattanooga (Tenn.)


August 2018


Background: Adolescence is a critical period for the development of health and well-being and is a pivotal time for transition toward independent health decision making. Family health communication patterns, can influence behaviors and attitudes of adolescents. Health literacy is a pre-requisite for acquiring and comprehending health information. However, minimal research exists examining the connection between health literacy and family communication. Purpose: To examine the risk of limited health literacy and explore the experiences of health communication among families. Methods: 9 Adolescents and 8 parents completed demographic questionnaires, the Newest Vital Sign and private semi-structured qualitative interviews. Glazer’s grounded theory approach was used to identify thematic categories and theoretic cores of the qualitative data. Results: Limited health literacy risk was 12.5% for parents and 22/2% for adolescents. Narrow definitions of health, evaluation methods of information, opportunity and interpretation were the identified themes. Conclusions: Results from our study suggest that within families who are not at risk for limited health literacy, health communication is occurring related to topics of interest to adolescents. These conversations persist despite parental perceptions of these conversations being negative. Further research should investigate parent motivation related to health communication and the role that health literacy may play in motivation toward and ability to engage in family health communication.


family communication; health literacy; adolescents; health communication

Document Type