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Biomedical Literacy in the United States: Exploring the borderland between science and citizenship
Unformatted Document Text:  7 A MODEL TO PREDICT BIOMEDICAL LITERACY AND ATTENTIVENESS To provide a quantitative description of the factors associated with biomedical literacy and with attentiveness to biomedical policy, it is useful to construct and analyze a structural equation model that incorporates major background and other related variables. A structural equation model – the modern descendent of traditional path models – allows us to estimate the relative contribution of each of the independent variables on each of the outcome variables in a temporal and logical context that reflects the life cycle and the real circumstances of daily life (Hayduk, 1987; Jöreskog and Sörbom, 1993; Du Toit and Du Toit, 2001). Looking at the full model (see Figure 2), age and gender are exogenous variables, occurring prior to any other variable in the model and predicted by no other variable in the model. Age is measured as a six-category ordinal variable. Gender is measured by a dichotomous variable, with the higher value assigned to female (no attribution is associated with this coding decision). The level of education reflects the self-report of the respondent to a series of questions about education completed and is coded into a five-category ordinal variable, ranging from less than a high school diploma to a graduate or professional degree. The number of college level science courses is a three-level ordinal variable reflecting no college-level science courses, one to three college-level science courses, and four or more college level science courses. Few Americans recognize that the United States is the only major nation to require general education courses as a part of a baccalaureate program. Throughout western Europe and Japan, university students take courses in only their major field of study and closely related topics. For each age cohort in the United States, approximately 40 percent of students begin a baccalaureate program and another 15 percent enroll in a community college program, but only a third of recent age cohorts complete the baccalaureate. Thus, the level of education completed and the

Authors: Miller, Jon. and Kimmel, Linda.
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7
A MODEL TO PREDICT BIOMEDICAL LITERACY AND ATTENTIVENESS
To provide a quantitative description of the factors associated with biomedical literacy and with
attentiveness to biomedical policy, it is useful to construct and analyze a structural equation model that
incorporates major background and other related variables. A structural equation model – the modern
descendent of traditional path models – allows us to estimate the relative contribution of each of the
independent variables on each of the outcome variables in a temporal and logical context that reflects the
life cycle and the real circumstances of daily life (Hayduk, 1987; Jöreskog and Sörbom, 1993; Du Toit
and Du Toit, 2001).
Looking at the full model (see Figure 2), age and gender are exogenous variables, occurring prior
to any other variable in the model and predicted by no other variable in the model. Age is measured as a
six-category ordinal variable. Gender is measured by a dichotomous variable, with the higher value
assigned to female (no attribution is associated with this coding decision).
The level of education reflects the self-report of the respondent to a series of questions about
education completed and is coded into a five-category ordinal variable, ranging from less than a high
school diploma to a graduate or professional degree. The number of college level science courses is a
three-level ordinal variable reflecting no college-level science courses, one to three college-level science
courses, and four or more college level science courses. Few Americans recognize that the United States
is the only major nation to require general education courses as a part of a baccalaureate program.
Throughout western Europe and Japan, university students take courses in only their major field of study
and closely related topics. For each age cohort in the United States, approximately 40 percent of students
begin a baccalaureate program and another 15 percent enroll in a community college program, but only a
third of recent age cohorts complete the baccalaureate. Thus, the level of education completed and the


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