Numeracy: A Review of the Literature
Numeracy is defined as the ability to understand and use numbers. In addition to basic reading and writing skills, today’s consumers need an understanding of numbers and basic mathematical skills to use any numerical information presented in text, tables or charts. This is especially true in many financial and healthcare settings, where a basic understanding of numerical concepts is arguably as important for informed decision making as reading ability. Although systematic research on numeracy has been growing steadily over the last several years, there have been few comprehensive reviews of this literature. In addition to summarizing key findings, a review could serve to identify gaps in our knowledge and suggest paths for future research in the field. The primary goal of this paper is to review current directions in numeracy research, and, in particular, to examine the relationship between numeracy and decision making in health and selected non-health domains.