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Biomedical Literacy in the United States: Exploring the borderland between science and citizenship
Unformatted Document Text:  11 study were asked if they had contacted a public official during the previous year on any public policy matter. If the respondent indicated that they had made a policy-relevant contact, he or she was asked to indicate the general area of policy that it involved (but not the exact direction or content of the contact). This sequence was repeated up to three times if a respondent reported multiple contacts. Using these responses, approximately 1.5 percent of adults – representing about three million individuals – reported that they had made a contact on a health or biomedical matter during the previous year. This result is consistent with other estimates of the volume of political contacting on major issues in the United States. Analysis Retaining all of the components of the previous model, a dichotomous variable indicating whether or not an individual had made a political contact on a health or biomedical issue was added to the model (see Figure 3). The results of the analysis show that political contacting on a health or biomedical issue is predicted by attentiveness to the issue (.52), the level of biomedical literacy (.39), college-level science courses (.30), general political interest (.24), subject-relevant media use (.18), and formal educational attainment (.13). Although the polychoric correlation coefficient for the relationship between biomedical literacy and attentiveness to biomedical policy issues is only .06, the existence of strong direct paths from each of these variables to policy contacting indicates that they jointly influence the relatively rare – only 1.5 percent of all adults made a political contact on this issue – citizen behavior of actually contacting a government officer on a substantive policy matter. This set of variables accounted for 46 percent of the total variance in political contacting on biomedical and health issues (see Table 3). It is interesting to note that there was no net effect from age on political contacting, holding constant all of the other variables in the model. Recalling the earlier observation that age was positively related to attentiveness to biomedical research and negatively related

Authors: Miller, Jon. and Kimmel, Linda.
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study were asked if they had contacted a public official during the previous year on any public policy
matter. If the respondent indicated that they had made a policy-relevant contact, he or she was asked to
indicate the general area of policy that it involved (but not the exact direction or content of the contact).
This sequence was repeated up to three times if a respondent reported multiple contacts. Using these
responses, approximately 1.5 percent of adults – representing about three million individuals – reported
that they had made a contact on a health or biomedical matter during the previous year. This result is
consistent with other estimates of the volume of political contacting on major issues in the United States.
Analysis
Retaining all of the components of the previous model, a dichotomous variable indicating
whether or not an individual had made a political contact on a health or biomedical issue was added to the
model (see Figure 3). The results of the analysis show that political contacting on a health or biomedical
issue is predicted by attentiveness to the issue (.52), the level of biomedical literacy (.39), college-level
science courses (.30), general political interest (.24), subject-relevant media use (.18), and formal
educational attainment (.13). Although the polychoric correlation coefficient for the relationship between
biomedical literacy and attentiveness to biomedical policy issues is only .06, the existence of strong direct
paths from each of these variables to policy contacting indicates that they jointly influence the relatively
rare – only 1.5 percent of all adults made a political contact on this issue – citizen behavior of actually
contacting a government officer on a substantive policy matter.
This set of variables accounted for 46 percent of the total variance in political contacting on
biomedical and health issues (see Table 3). It is interesting to note that there was no net effect from age
on political contacting, holding constant all of the other variables in the model. Recalling the earlier
observation that age was positively related to attentiveness to biomedical research and negatively related


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