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Health numeracy skills help people interpret health risks, and make effective medical decisions. Lower health numeracy confidence was observed for blacks and Hispanic groups than whites. Little is known about the important factors that explain racial differences in health numeracy confidence. For this study, we used a nationally representative, cross-sectional data sample of 4,610 U.S. adults from the National Cancer Institute’s 2007 Health Information National Trends Survey. Bivariate (Chi-squares) and multiple logistic regression analyses were conducted to identify the contribution factors that predict health numeracy confidence. Non-linear Fairlie decompositions were used to quantify the factor contributions to racial differences in health numeracy confidence. The priority rankings of the important factors to explain the health numeracy confidence racial and ethnic disparities are different depending on the particular racial and ethnic group. Diverse, culturally appropriate approaches are needed to improve numeracy confidence for specific racial and ethnic groups.

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Literacy and Numeracy Studies, v. 20, no. 2, p. 3-16.