Newest Vital Sign — Tool for Rapid Assessment of Health Literacy Skills

As a result of research efforts led by Barry D. Weiss, MD, University of Arizona College of Medicine, health-care providers soon will have access to a new tool designed to assess a patient’s health literacy skills quickly and simply. Knowing if a patient can understand and act on health information enables the healthcare provider to tailor their communication and enhance patient understanding. Dr. Weiss and his team of researchers, working in collaboration with colleagues at the Univ. of North Carolina, have developed the Newest Vital Sign (NVS), a simple, six-question assessment based on an ice cream nutrition label, which can be administered in only three minutes. The NVS, available in both English and Spanish languages, enables healthcare providers to assess an individual’s health literacy skills - the ability to read, understand and act upon health information - quickly and accurately. For details, visit the Annals of Family Medicine Web site, ( and view the November-December 2005 issue.