Date Available


Year of Publication


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Document Type



Communication and Information Studies


Library Science

First Advisor

Dr. Jeffrey T. Huber


The concept of health literacy finds its origins in the field of education. In its brief history the definition, structure, and direction of the field has changed dramatically and has emerged as a multidisciplinary endeavor full of discipline specific manifestations, most recently, public health literacy. Using bibliometric and citation analyses, this study investigated the field of health literacy from the first use of the term in 1974 to the present year, 2010. A range of databases from the various fields that have contributed to the field were searched using the keyword string, “health literacy.” Data was organized, cleaned and parsed using EndNote X3. A free, Java-based application, CiteSpace, was utilized for visualization of author co-citations, document co-citations, keyword co-occurrences, and document co-citation clusters. This research presents researchers, librarians and those interested in the field with information to efficiently conduct literature searches and understand the structure of the field. In addition, this research provides insight into how and where the field may be progressing in terms of multi- and interdisciplinary research.