Tina MooreFollow




School of Education


Doctor of Education (EdD)


Michelle Barthlow


Health Literacy, Health Numeracy, Medical School Curriculum, Risk Literacy, Shared Decision Making


Curriculum and Instruction | Education | Educational Administration and Supervision | Educational Assessment, Evaluation, and Research | Educational Methods


Numeracy, a domain of health literacy, poses barriers to effective patient-provider communication including understanding risks and benefits for shared decision making. Best practices for conveying numeric information have been established; however, these skills are not embedded in current medical school curricula. Inadequate statistical literacy of physicians can lead to misinterpretation of risk and benefit data as well as poor communication with patients. Medical school curricula and pre-matriculation requirements for statistics varies. This quantitative, non-experimental, predictive, correlational study explored medical students’ risk literacy and attitudes toward statistics. The purpose was to examine the relationship between risk literacy as measured by the Berlin Numeracy Test and a linear combination of the Attitudes Toward Statistics (ATS) subscales and successful completion of a college level statistics course. The sample included 327 first year medical students from two U.S. academic institutions located in different states. Survey data were entered into SPSS; initial data screening and assumption tests were conducted prior to multiple regression analysis. The linear combination of predictor variables had a significant yet modest correlation with the criterion variable. Both attitude subscales had a statistically significant positive predictive relationship with risk literacy, while the impact of a college level statistics course was insignificant; over 90% of the sample had completed a college level statistics course which may have led to inconclusive findings for that variable. Participants demonstrated a lack of risk literacy; only 34.9% answered more than half correctly. Recommendations for future research are included and should primarily focus on developing and testing risk literacy and risk communication training.