Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Gerontology Institute

First Advisor

Patricia Clark - Chair

Second Advisor

Elisabeth Burgess

Third Advisor

Molly Perkins


ABSTRACT Many older African American adults have inadequate health literacy and are more likely to have chronic illnesses needing medication therapy. African Americans continue to experience significant health disparities in the incidences of cardiovascular disease and diabetes. It was postulated that ethnic disparities in medication compliance are related to a dynamic interplay between low health literacy and health locus of control. Thirty older African Americans taking at least one prescription medication were interviewed. Although the vast majority was well-educated, only 53% displayed adequate health literacy. Most of the participants believed they controlled their health, and over half were noncompliant with their medications. Poor health literacy and health locus of control appeared to influence medication compliance in older African Americans.