Consumer Education Initiatives in Financial and Health Literacy. Peer-Reviewed Literature


The study team scanned the social science and medical peer-reviewed literature, including both qualitative and quantitative descriptive studies, using Academic Search Premier, Business Source Corporate, the Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature (CINAHL), Professional Development Collection, PsycInfo, PubMed, SocSci Index, and the Web of Science. We searched these databases, using keyword search terms and the Medical Subject Headings (MeSH) (in PubMed) for each category of interest and limiting our searches to resources developed domestically. Detailed information about search terms is presented in Appendix A.

We reviewed 166 abstracts related to financial literacy and 360 related to health literacy, for a total of 526 abstracts. On the basis of our review of the abstracts, we retrieved 178 full text articles. While we focused primarily on recent literature, we included articles or books from before 2005 if they were considered seminal in their field. We did not include research related to educational work for school grades from kindergarten through college, mostly because our goal was to focus on assessing programs that would be helpful to low-income adults.


Table 1.
Literature review and initiative priorities
High Priority Goal
  • Literature review:  to describe findings from consumer education initiatives relating to health and financial literacy
  • Initiatives:  to describe HHS and selected additional federal agency and private consumer education initiatives relating to financial or health literacy, including the findings, results, and lessons learned from the efforts

Topics:  financial literacy, health literacy, and consumer education

Target audience:  low-income consumers, including, in some cases, information that would be of value to these consumers

Types of Data

  • Literature review:  Quantitative data with evidence and qualitative methods, such as meta-analyses and literature reviews
  • Interviews:  initiatives that seek to improve individuals skills and behaviors in health and finance


  • Literature review:  the last 5 years (seminal pieces that are older than five years are also included)
  • Interviews:  Ongoing or recently completed initiatives
Excluded Excluded from interviews and the literature review
  • Education or initiatives directed to those in kindergarten through 12th grade and college
  • Campaigns seeking to raise awareness or simply share information
  • Health literacy issues that are not generalizable to financial literacy

Literature review-specific

  • Opinion or editorial pieces
  • Literature external to the United States
  • Literature in languages other than English

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