Although health literacy has been a public health priority area for over a decade, the relationship between health literacy and dietary quality has not been thoroughly explored.
To evaluate health literacy skills in relation to Healthy Eating Index scores (HEI) and Sugar-Sweetened Beverage (SSB) consumption, while accounting for demographic variables.
A community-based proportional sample of adults residing in the rural Lower Mississippi Delta.
Instruments included a validated 158-item regional food frequency questionnaire and the Newest Vital Sign (scores range 0–6) to assess health literacy.
Statistical analyses performed
Descriptive statistics, ANOVA, and multivariate linear regression.
Of 376 participants, the majority were African American (67.6%), without a college degree (71.5%), and household income level <$20,000/year (55.0%). Most participants (73.9%) scored in the two lowest health literacy categories. The multivariate linear regression model to predict total HEI scores was significant (R2=0.24; F=18.8; p<0.01), such that every 1 point increase in health literacy was associated with a 1.21 point increase in healthy eating index scores, while controlling for all other variables. Other significant predictors of HEI scores included age, gender, and SNAP participation. Health literacy also significantly predicted sugar-sweetened beverages consumption (R2=0.15; F=6.3; p<0.01), while accounting for demographic variables. Every 1 point in health literacy scores was associated with 34 fewer SSB kilocalories/day. Age was the only significant covariate in the SSB model.
While health literacy has been linked to numerous poor health outcomes, to our knowledge this is the first investigation to establish a relationship between health literacy and HEI scores and SSB consumption. Our study suggests that understanding the causes and consequences of limited health literacy is an important factor in promoting compliance to the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
Health literacy; diet quality; beverages; health disparities
Limited health literacy is associated with worse physical function in cross-sectional studies. We aimed to determine if health literacy is a risk factor for decline in physical function among older adults.
A longitudinal cohort of 529 community-dwelling American adults aged 55–74 years were recruited from an academic general internal medicine clinic and federally qualified health centres in 2008–2011. Health literacy (Newest Vital Sign), age, gender, race, education, chronic conditions, body mass index, alcohol consumption, smoking status and exercise frequency were included in multivariable analyses. The 10-item PROMIS (Patient-Reported Outcomes Measurement Information System) physical function scale was assessed at baseline and follow-up (mean=3.2 years, SD=0.39).
Nearly half of the sample (48.2%) had either marginal (25.5%) or low health literacy (22.7%). Average physical function at baseline was 83.2 (SD=16.6) of 100, and health literacy was associated with poorer baseline physical function in multivariable analysis (p=0.004). At follow-up, physical function declined to 81.9 (SD=17.3; p=0.006) and 20.5% experienced a meaningful decline (>0.5 SD of baseline score). In multivariable analyses, participants with marginal (OR 2.62; 95%CI 1.38 to 4.95; p=0.003) and low (OR 2.57; 95%CI 1.22 to 5.44; p=0.013) health literacy were more likely to experience meaningful decline in physical function than the adequate health literacy group. Entering cognitive abilities to these models did not substantially attenuate effect sizes. Health literacy attenuated the relationship between black race and decline in physical function by 32.6%.
Lower health literacy increases the risk of exhibiting faster physical decline over time among older adults. Strategies that reduce literacy disparities should be designed and evaluated.
AGEING; LONGITUDINAL STUDIES; Cohort studies; PHYSICAL FUNCTION; PSYCHOLOGY
Identification of low levels of health literacy is important for effective communication between providers and clients. Assessment instruments for general health literacy are inadequate for use in nutrition education encounters because they do not identify nutrition literacy. The primary objective of this 2-part study was to assess content validity for the Nutrition Literacy Assessment Instrument (NLAI).
This study included a 35-item online survey of registered dietitians (134 of whom answered all questions) and a pilot study in which 5 registered dietitians used the NLAI among 26 clients during nutrition education consultations. To assess agreement with the NLAI by survey participants, we used the following scale: “necessary” (70% agreement), “adequate” (80% agreement), or “good” (90% agreement); comments were analyzed by using content analysis. For the pilot, we made comparisons between subjective assessments, the Rapid Estimate of Adult Literacy in Medicine (REALM), and the NLAI. Registered dietitians also completed a postpilot–study survey.
For the online survey, we found good agreement (average, 89.7%) for including each section of the NLAI. All sections accomplished their purpose (average, 81.5%). For the pilot, REALM and NLAI correlation (r = 0.38) was not significant; the subjective assessment of clients by dietitians and NLAI lacked agreement 44% of the time, and registered dietitians provided instruction on deficient knowledge and skills identified by the NLAI 90% of the time.
The NLAI is a content-valid measure of nutrition literacy. Additional validation of the NLAI is important because an objective instrument is needed for identifying nutrition literacy, a construct that appears to be different from health literacy.
Background: Despite the large volume of research dedicated to health-related behavior change, chronic disease costs continue to rise, thus creating a major public health burden. Health literacy, the ability to seek, understand, and utilize health information, has been identified as an important factor in the course of chronic conditions. Little research has been conducted on the relationship between health literacy and health-related behaviors and health status in elderly Chinese. The aim of this study was to elucidate the relationship between health literacy and health-related behaviors and health status in China. Methods: The subjects enrolled in this study were selected based on a stratified cluster random sampling design. Information involving >4500 older adults in 44 pension institutions in Urumqi, Changji, Karamay, and Shihezi of Xinjiang between September 2011 and June 2012 was collected. The Chinese Citizen Health Literacy Questionnaire (China Health Education Centre, 2008) and a Scale of the General Status were administered and the information was obtained through face-to-face inquiries by investigators. A total of 1452 respondents met the inclusion criteria. A total of 1452 questionnaires were issued and the valid response rate was 96.14% (1396 of 1452). Factors affecting health literacy and the relationship to health literacy were identified by one-way ANOVA and a multiple linear regression model. Results: The average health literacy level of the elderly in nursing homes was relatively low (71.74 ± 28.35 points). There were significant differences in the health literacy score among the factors of age, gender, race, education level, household income, marital conditions, and former occupation (p < 0.001). The health literacy score was significantly associated with smoking, drinking, physical exercise, and health examination (p < 0.001). The elderly with higher health literacy scores were significantly less likely to have risky behaviors (smoking, regular drinking, and lack of physical exercise), and in turn significantly more likely to undergo health examinations regularly, report good self-rated health, and significantly more likely to access sufficient health information from multiple sources (p < 0.001). No differences were noted between the health literacy score and BMI (p > 0.05). Multiple linear regression analysis showed that the independent influencing factors of health literacy included education level, race, former occupation, household income, age, physical exercise, health examination, smoking, and health information access (p < 0.001). Conclusions: Health literacy was significantly associated with health-related behaviors in elderly Chinese. Further longitudinal studies are needed to help confirm that improving health literacy in the elderly may be effective in changing health-related behaviors. To reduce risky habits, educational interventions to improve health literacy should be simultaneously conducted in health promotion work.
health literacy; health-related behaviors; health status; nursing homes; relationship
To determine the association between health literacy and participation in publicly available colorectal cancer (CRC) screening in England using data from the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing (ELSA).
ELSA is a population-based study of English adults aged ≥ 50 years. Health literacy, participation in the national CRC screening programme, and covariates were interview-assessed in 2010–11. All those age-eligible for screening from 2006 to 11 were included in the present analysis (n = 3087). The association between health literacy and screening was estimated using multivariable-adjusted logistic regression.
73% of participants had adequate health literacy skills. Screening uptake was 58% among those with adequate and 48% among those with limited health literacy skills. Having adequate health literacy was associated with greater odds of CRC screening (multivariable adjusted OR = 1.20; 95% CI: 1.00–1.44), independent of other predictors of screening: age (OR = 0.92; 95% CI: 0.91–0.94 per one year increase), female sex (OR = 1.31; 95% CI: 1.11–1.54), and being in a higher wealth quintile (OR = 1.88; 95% CI: 1.43–2.49).
Limited health literacy is a barrier to participation in England's national, publicly available CRC screening programme. Interventions should include appropriate design of information materials, provision of alternative support, and increased one-on-one interaction with health care professionals.
•We examine the role of health literacy in colorectal cancer screening in England.•Almost one in three English adults aged 60–75 have limited health literacy skills.•Low literacy is a barrier to colorectal cancer screening participation in England.•Interventions are needed to reduce literacy-based screening inequalities.
Colorectal cancer screening; Early detection; Faecal occult blood test; Health equity; Organised Screening; Health literacy; Communication
Parents who are recent immigrants and/or non-native English speakers are at increased risk for poor health literacy. For example, misconceptions regarding treatment for upper respiratory infections (URIs), including nonjudicious use of antibiotics, have been described among Latinos. We sought to assess the influence of health literacy on knowledge and beliefs surrounding URI care and to explore the correlation between two health literacy measures among Latino parents in northern Manhattan. A descriptive survey design was used, and a total of 154 Latino parents were enrolled from four early head start programs between September 2009 and December 2009. Health literacy was measured using the Short Test of Functional Health Literacy in Adults (S-TOFHLA) and Newest Vital Sign (NVS); parental knowledge and beliefs regarding antibiotic treatment for URIs were also assessed. Analyses were conducted in 2010 with multivariable logistic regression performed to examine predictors of health literacy. Inadequate health literacy was observed in 83.8 % of respondents using NVS and 35.7 % with the S-TOFHLA. College education was significantly associated with adequate health literacy using either the NVS or S-TOFHLA; however, other results varied between measures. Using NVS, there was a greater likelihood of adequate health literacy with US birth status (AOR 13.8; 95 % CI, 1.99–95.1), >5 years US residency (AOR 7.6; 95 % CI, 1.3–43.1) and higher antibiotic knowledge scores (AOR 1.7; 95 % CI, 1.2–2.4). Using S-TOFHLA, the odds of adequate health literacy increased with access to a regular care provider (AOR 2.6; 95 % CI, 1.2–5.6). Scores consistent with adequate health literacy on the NVS, but not the S-TOFHLA, were associated with correct beliefs regarding antibiotic use for URIs in comparison to scores of participants with inadequate health literacy. Since health literacy levels were low in this population and the risk of viral URI was high during the first few years of life, targeted education to improve health literacy, knowledge, and beliefs about URI and related antibiotic treatment is needed.
Health literacy; Upper respiratory infection (URI); Knowledge of antibiotics; Latinos; Parents
To investigate whether previously noted associations between health literacy and functional health status might be explained by cognitive function.
Data Sources/Study Setting
Health Literacy and Cognition in Older Adults (‘LitCog’, prospective study funded by National Institute on Aging). Data presented are from interviews conducted among 784 adults, ages 55–74 receiving care at an academic general medicine clinic or one of four federally-qualified health centers in Chicago from 2008–2010.
Study participants completed structured, in-person interviews administered by trained research assistants.
Health literacy was measured using the Test of Functional Health Literacy in Adults (TOFHLA), Rapid Estimate of Adult Literacy in Medicine (REALM), and Newest Vital Sign (NVS). Cognitive function was assessed using measures of long-term and working memory, processing speed, reasoning and verbal ability. Functional health was assessed with SF-36 physical health summary scale and Patient Reported Outcomes Measurement Information System (PROMIS) short form subscales for depression and anxiety.
All health literacy measures were significantly correlated with all cognitive domains. In multivariable analyses, inadequate health literacy was associated with worse physical health and more depressive symptoms. After adjusting for cognitive abilities, associations between health literacy, physical health and depressive symptoms were attenuated and no longer significant.
Cognitive function explains a significant proportion of the associations between health literacy, physical health and depression among older adults. Interventions to reduce literacy disparities in healthcare should minimize the cognitive burden in behaviors patients must adopt to manage personal health.
health literacy; cognitive function; patient reported outcomes
To investigate whether previously noted associations between health literacy and functional health status might be explained by cognitive function.
Data Sources/Study Setting
Health Literacy and Cognition in Older Adults (“LitCog,” prospective study funded by National Institute on Aging). Data presented are from interviews conducted among 784 adults, ages 55–74 years receiving care at an academic general medicine clinic or one of four federally qualified health centers in Chicago from 2008 to 2010.
Study participants completed structured, in-person interviews administered by trained research assistants.
Health literacy was measured using the Test of Functional Health Literacy in Adults, Rapid Estimate of Adult Literacy in Medicine, and Newest Vital Sign. Cognitive function was assessed using measures of long-term and working memory, processing speed, reasoning, and verbal ability. Functional health was assessed with SF-36 physical health summary scale and Patient Reported Outcomes Measurement Information System short form subscales for depression and anxiety.
All health literacy measures were significantly correlated with all cognitive domains. In multivariable analyses, inadequate health literacy was associated with worse physical health and more depressive symptoms. After adjusting for cognitive abilities, associations between health literacy, physical health, and depressive symptoms were attenuated and no longer significant.
Cognitive function explains a significant proportion of the associations between health literacy, physical health, and depression among older adults. Interventions to reduce literacy disparities in health care should minimize the cognitive burden in behaviors patients must adopt to manage personal health.
Health literacy; cognitive abilities; health tasks; patient-reported outcomes; physical health; mental health
Health and financial literacy have been linked to the health and well-being of older adults, yet there are few data on how health and financial literacy actually impact decision making regarding healthcare and economic choices in advanced age.
To examine the association of health and financial literacy with decision making in older adults.
Data came from 525 community-dwelling older persons without dementia from the Rush Memory and Aging Project, an ongoing longitudinal study of aging. Health and financial literacy were assessed via a series of questions designed to measure comprehension of health and financial information and concepts. The two scores were averaged to yield a total literacy score. A modified, 12-item version of the Decision-Making Competence Assessment Tool was used to measure financial and healthcare decision making (6 items each), using materials designed to approximate those used in real world settings. All 12 items were summed to yield a total decision-making score. Associations were tested via linear regression models adjusted for age, sex and education. Secondary models adjusted for global cognitive function, income, depression and chronic medical conditions.
On average, participants correctly answered 67% of the literacy questions (health literacy = 61.6%, SD = 18.8% and financial literacy = 72.5%, SD = 16.0%). After adjustment for cognitive function, the total literacy score was positively associated with the decision-making total score (estimate = 0.64, SE = 0.08, p < 0.001), as well as healthcare (estimate = 0.37, SE = 0.5, p < 0.001) and financial decision making (estimate = 0.28, SE = 0.05, p < 0.001). Further, total literacy, health and financial literacy all were independently associated with decision making in models adjusted for covariates including income, depression, and chronic medical conditions (all p values < 0.001). Finally, there was evidence of effect modification such that the beneficial association between literacy and healthcare decision making was stronger among older persons, poorer persons and persons at the lower ranges of cognitive ability.
Among community based older persons without dementia, higher levels of health and financial literacy were associated with better decision making, suggesting that improvements in literacy could facilitate better decision making and lead to better health and quality of life in later years.
Financial literacy; Health literacy; Decision making
Recent research has begun to recognize the important influence of literacy levels and how they affect health and wellbeing, especially in older adults. Our study focuses on health and financial literacy, two domains of literacy which previous research has suggested may be significantly related to health and wellbeing. Our study examines the relation of health and financial literacy with health promoting behaviors and health status among community-based older persons.
We conducted a cross-sectional study using data from the Rush Memory and Aging Project, a community-based cohort study of aging in northeastern Illinois. The study consisted of 556 older persons without dementia, each determined by a clinical evaluation. Health and financial literacy were measured using a series of questions designed to assess the ability to understand and process health and financial information, concepts, and numeracy; the two scores were averaged to yield a total literacy score. Health promoting behaviors, including engagement in cognitive, physical, and social activities, were assessed using self report measures. Indicators of heath status, including cognition (global cognition and five specific cognitive abilities), functional status (basic and instrumental activities of daily living, mobility disability), and mental health (depressive symptoms, loneliness) were assessed.
In a series of regression models adjusted for age, sex, and education, higher total literacy scores were associated with more frequent participation in health promoting behaviors, including cognitive, physical and social activities (all p values <0.05). Higher total literacy scores were associated with higher cognitive function, less disability, and better mental health (all p values < 0.05). Literacy remained associated with health promoting behaviors and health status in fully adjusted models that also controlled for income and the number of chronic medical conditions. Most of the findings were similar for health and financial literacy except that health literacy was more strongly associated with health promoting behaviors whereas financial literacy was more strongly associated with mental health.
Health and financial literacy are associated with more frequent engagement in health promoting behaviors and better health status in older persons without dementia.
Health literacy; Financial literacy; Older adults; Dementia
College students’ health behavior is a topic that deserves attention. Individual factors and eHealth literacy may affect an individual’s health behaviors. The integrative model of eHealth use (IMeHU) provides a parsimonious account of the connections among the digital divide, health care disparities, and the unequal distribution and use of communication technologies. However, few studies have explored the associations among individual factors, eHealth literacy, and health behaviors, and IMeHU has not been empirically investigated.
This study examines the associations among individual factors, eHealth literacy, and health behaviors using IMeHU.
The Health Behavior Scale is a 12-item instrument developed to measure college students’ eating, exercise, and sleep behaviors. The eHealth Literacy Scale is a 12-item instrument designed to measure college students’ functional, interactive, and critical eHealth literacy. A nationally representative sample of 525 valid college students in Taiwan was surveyed. A questionnaire was administered to collect background information about participants’ health status, degree of health concern, major, and the frequency with which they engaged in health-related discussions. This study used Amos 6.0 to conduct a confirmatory factor analysis to identify the best measurement models for the eHealth Literacy Scale and the Health Behavior Scale. We then conducted a multiple regression analysis to examine the associations among individual factors, eHealth literacy, and health behaviors. Additionally, causal steps approach was used to explore indirect (mediating) effects and Sobel tests were used to test the significance of the mediating effects.
The study found that perceptions of better health status (t520=2.14-6.12, P<.001-.03) and greater concern for health (t520=2.58-6.95, P<.001-.003) influenced college students’ development of 3 dimensions of eHealth literacy and adoption of healthy eating, exercise, and sleep behaviors. Moreover, eHealth literacy played an intermediary role in the association between individual factors and health behaviors (Sobel test=2.09-2.72, P<.001-.03). Specifically, higher levels of critical eHealth literacy promoted students’ health status and their practice of multiple positive health behaviors, including eating, exercise, and sleep behaviors.
Because this study showed that eHealth literacy mediates the association between individual factors and health behaviors, schools should aim to enhance students’ eHealth literacy and promote their health behaviors to help them achieve high levels of critical eHealth literacy. Although some of the study’s hypotheses were not supported in this study, the factors that influence health behaviors are complex and interdependent. Therefore, a follow-up study should be conducted to further explore how these factors influence one another.
demographic; health behavior; mediation; eHealth literacy; quantitative evaluation
Refugees have poorer health compared to indigenous populations, which may be explained by lower health literacy, i.e. not being able to access, understand, appraise or apply health information. This study aims to determine levels of functional and comprehensive health literacy, and factors associated with inadequate health literacy, in refugees coming to Sweden.
A cross-sectional study was performed among 455 adult refugees speaking Arabic, Dari, Somali or English. Participants in 16 strategically selected language schools for immigrants responded to a questionnaire. Health literacy was measured using the Swedish Functional Health Literacy Scale and the HLS-EU-Q16 questionnaire. Uni- and multivariate statistical methods were used to investigate group differences.
The majority of the participating refugees had inadequate or limited functional health literacy and comprehensive health literacy. About 60% of them had inadequate functional health literacy and 27% had inadequate comprehensive health literacy. Low education and/or being born in Somalia were factors associated with an increased risk of having inadequate functional health literacy. Having inadequate functional health literacy was associated with an increased risk of having inadequate comprehensive health literacy.
The majority of refugees in the language schools had limited or poor health literacy. Health literacy should be taken into consideration in contexts and in activities addressing migrants. More research is needed to better understand health literacy among refugees and to develop strategies and methods to increase health literacy and make life easier for those with low health literacy.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/1471-2458-14-1030) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
Health literacy; Refugees; Health promotion; Sweden; S-FHL; HLS-EU-Q16
In the United States, it is estimated that 40% of adults utilize complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) therapies. Recently, national surveys report that over 90 million adults have inadequate health literacy. To date, no study has assessed health literacy and its effect on CAM use. The primary objective of this study was to assess the relationship between health literacy and CAM use independent of educational attainment. Second objective was to evaluate the differential effect of health literacy on CAM use by race.
351 patients were recruited from an outpatient primary care clinic. Validated surveys assessed CAM use (I-CAM-Q), health literacy (REALM-R), and demographic information. We compared demographics by health literacy (adequate vs. inadequate) and overall and individual CAM categories by health literacy using chi square statistics. We found a race by health literacy interaction and ran sequential logistic regression models stratified by race to test the association between health literacy and overall CAM use (Model 1), Model 1 + education (Model 2), and Model 2 + other demographic characteristics (Model 3). We reported the adjusted effect of health literacy on CAM use for both whites and African Americans separately.
75% of the participants had adequate literacy and 80% used CAM. CAM use differed by CAM category. Among whites, adequate health literacy was significantly associated with increased CAM use in both unadjusted (Model 1, OR 7.68; p = 0.001) and models adjusted for education (Model 2, OR 7.70; p = 0.002) and other sociodemographics (Model 3, OR 9.42; p = 0.01). Among African Americans, adequate health literacy was not associated with CAM use in any of the models.
We found a race by literacy interaction suggesting that the relationship between health literacy and CAM use differed significantly by race. Adequate health literacy among whites is associated with increased CAM use, but not associated with CAM use in African Americans.
Health literacy is the most important predictor of an individual's health status, with more frequent hospitalizations, worse control of chronic conditions, and suboptimal treatment outcomes associated with limited literacy. Despite this, little is known about musculoskeletal health literacy. As such, this study utilized a musculoskeletal specific literacy survey (the LiMP questionnaire) to evaluate the level of comprehension in patients presenting to the emergency department with musculoskeletal complaints, with an emphasis on their understanding of anatomy, terminology, diagnosis and treatment of musculoskeletal conditions. The relationship between musculoskeletal specific and general health literacy was also assessed, in addition to the risk factors for limited musculoskeletal comprehension.
In this cross-sectional study, each of the 248 participants completed a demographic survey, the LiMP questionnaire, and the Newest Vital Sign (NVS), a general health literacy assessment tool. A x2 analysis was used to compare results from the LiMP questionnaire and NVS, and to evaluate the relationship between musculoskeletal health literacy and demographic parameters.
The mean LiMP score was 4.68 ± 1.78 out of a possible nine points. Questions regarding musculoskeletal conditions were answered correctly by 47.4% of respondents. Questions regarding diagnosis and treatment were answered correctly by 31.2% of respondents. Questions regarding anatomy and terminology were answered correctly by 65.3% of respondents.
Limited musculoskeletal literacy, defined as LiMP questionnaire scores of <6, was observed in 69% of subjects. Inadequate general health literacy, defined as NVS scores <4, was observed in 48% of subjects. This difference was statistically significant (p<0.001).
Those who identified themselves as Caucasian and having an education level of ≥ college were significantly more likely to have adequate musculoskeletal literacy (p=0.001, p<0.001, respectively).
The prevalence of limited musculoskeletal literacy is greater than that of limited general health literacy, with minorities and those with lower education levels most at risk. These findings are consistent with other disease and specialty specific literacy studies. Although such insight will assist providers in accurately targeting education and outreach campaigns, it remains imperative that additional research be performed to determine if limited literacy correlates with increased complications and worse outcomes in those with musculoskeletal conditions.
Level of Evidence
The authors have no relevant financial disclosures or conflicts of interest with regard to this manuscript. No funding was received.
Inadequate health literacy is a pervasive problem with major implications for reduced health status and health disparities. Despite the role of focused education in both primary and secondary prevention of stroke, the effect of health literacy on stroke education retention has not been reported. We examined the relationship of health literacy to the retention of knowledge after recommended stroke education.
This prospective cross-sectional study was conducted at an urban safety-net hospital. Study subjects were patients older than 18 admitted to the hospital stroke unit with a diagnosis of acute ischemic stroke who were able to provide informed consent to participate (N = 100). Health literacy levels were measured by using the short form of Test of Functional Health Literacy in Adults. Patient education was provided to patients at an inpatient stroke unit by using standardized protocols, in compliance with Joint Commission specifications. The education outcomes for poststroke care education, knowledge retention, was assessed for each subject. The effect of health literacy on the Stroke Patient Education Retention scores was assessed by using univariate and multivariate analyses.
Of the 100 participating patients, 59% had inadequate to marginal health literacy. Stroke patients who had marginal health literacy (mean score, 7.45; standard deviation [SD], 1.9) or adequate health literacy (mean score, 7.31; SD, 1.76) had statistically higher education outcome scores than those identified as having inadequate health literacy (mean score, 5.58; SD, 2.06). Results from multivariate analysis indicated that adequate health literacy was most predictive of education outcome retention.
This study demonstrated a clear relationship between health literacy and stroke education outcomes. Studies are needed to better understand the relationship of health literacy to key educational outcomes for primary or secondary prevention of stroke and to refine stroke education for literacy levels of high-risk populations.
Health literacy is a measure of an individual's ability to read, comprehend, and act on medical instructions. Limited health literacy can reduce the adults’ ability to comprehend and use basic health-related materials, such as prescription, food labels, health education pamphlets, articles, appointment slips, and health insurance plans, which can affect their ability to take appropriate and timely health care action. Nowadays, low health literacy is considered a worldwide health threat. So, the purpose of this study was to assess health literacy level in older adults and to investigate the relationships between health literacy and health status, health care utilization, and health preventive behaviors.
Materials and Methods:
A cross-sectional survey of 354 older adults was conducted in Isfahan. The method of sampling was clustering. Health literacy was measured using the Test of Functional Health Literacy in Adults (TOFHLA). Data were collected using home interviewing. Health status was measured based on self-rated general health. Health care utilization was measured based on self-reported outpatient clinic visits, emergency room visits, and hospitalizations, and health preventive behaviors were measured based on self-reported preventive health services use.
Approximately 79.6% of adults were found to have inadequate health literacy. They tended to be older, had fewer years of schooling, lower household income, and were females. Inadequate health literacy was associated with poorer general health (P < 0.001). Health literacy level was negatively associated with outpatient visits (P = 0.003) and hospitalization (P = 0.01). No significant association was found between health literacy level and emergency room utilization. Self-reported lack of PSA (Prostate-Specific Antigen) test (P < 0.001) and fecal occult blood test (FOBT; P = 0.003) was higher among individuals with inadequate health literacy than those with adequate health literacy. No significant association was found between health literacy level and mammogram in the last 2 years.
Low health literacy is more prevalent in older adults. It indicates the importance of health literacy issue in health promotion. So, with simple educational materials and effective interventions for low health literacy group, we can improve health promotion in the society and mitigate the adverse health effects of low health literacy.
Health care utilization; health literacy; health preventive behaviors; health status; older adults
Health literacy is a measure of individual's ability to read, comprehend, and act on medical instructions. Older adults are one of the most important at risk groups affected by the impact of inadequate health literacy. Health promoting behaviors in older adults have potential impact on their health and quality of life and reduce the costs incurred to health care. Given the paucity of information health literacy and health promoting behavior, the purpose of this study was to examine health literacy level in older adults and the relationship between health literacy and health promoting behaviors.
Materials and Method:
A cross-sectional survey of 354 older adults was conducted in Isfahan. The method of sampling was clustering. Health literacy was measured using the Test of Functional Health Literacy in Adults (TOFHLA). Data were collected via home interviewing. Health promoting behaviors were measured based on self-reported smoking status, exercise, and consumption of fruit and vegetables. The collected data were analyzed using descriptive statistics and one-way ANOVA and χ2 tests under SPSS 18 software.
The sample group averaged 67 ± 6.97 years in age. Approximately 79.6% of adults were found to have inadequate health literacy. They tended to be older, have fewer years of schooling, lower household income, and being female Individuals with inadequate health literacy were more likely to report limitations in activity and lower consumption of fruit and vegetables (P < 0.001). No significant association was found between health literacy and smoking status.
Considering high prevalence of inadequate health literacy among older adults, and its inverse relationship with some health promoting behaviors. Simple educational materials and effective interventions for low health literacy people can improve health promotion in society and mitigate the adverse health effects of low health literacy.
Health literacy; health promoting behaviors; older adults
Baby boomers and older adults, a subset of the population at high risk for chronic disease, social isolation, and poor health outcomes, are increasingly utilizing the Internet and social media (Web 2.0) to locate and evaluate health information. However, among these older populations, little is known about what factors influence their eHealth literacy and use of Web 2.0 for health information.
The intent of the study was to explore the extent to which sociodemographic, social determinants, and electronic device use influences eHealth literacy and use of Web 2.0 for health information among baby boomers and older adults.
A random sample of baby boomers and older adults (n=283, mean 67.46 years, SD 9.98) participated in a cross-sectional, telephone survey that included the eHealth literacy scale (eHEALS) and items from the Health Information National Trends Survey (HINTS) assessing electronic device use and use of Web 2.0 for health information. An independent samples t test compared eHealth literacy among users and non-users of Web 2.0 for health information. Multiple linear and logistic regression analyses were conducted to determine associations between sociodemographic, social determinants, and electronic device use on self-reported eHealth literacy and use of Web 2.0 for seeking and sharing health information.
Almost 90% of older Web 2.0 users (90/101, 89.1%) reported using popular Web 2.0 websites, such as Facebook and Twitter, to find and share health information. Respondents reporting use of Web 2.0 reported greater eHealth literacy (mean 30.38, SD 5.45, n=101) than those who did not use Web 2.0 (mean 28.31, SD 5.79, n=182), t
217.60=−2.98, P=.003. Younger age (b=−0.10), more education (b=0.48), and use of more electronic devices (b=1.26) were significantly associated with greater eHealth literacy (R
2 =.17, R
2adj =.14, F9,229=5.277, P<.001). Women were nearly three times more likely than men to use Web 2.0 for health information (OR 2.63, Wald= 8.09, df=1, P=.004). Finally, more education predicted greater use of Web 2.0 for health information, with college graduates (OR 2.57, Wald= 3.86, df =1, P=.049) and post graduates (OR 7.105, Wald= 4.278, df=1, P=.04) nearly 2 to 7 times more likely than non-high school graduates to use Web 2.0 for health information.
Being younger and possessing more education was associated with greater eHealth literacy among baby boomers and older adults. Females and those highly educated, particularly at the post graduate level, reported greater use of Web 2.0 for health information. More in-depth surveys and interviews among more diverse groups of baby boomers and older adult populations will likely yield a better understanding regarding how current Web-based health information seeking and sharing behaviors influence health-related decision making.
social media; aging; health literacy; Web 2.0
Previous studies have reported that health literacy limitations are associated with poorer disease control for chronic conditions, but have not evaluated potential associations with medication adherence.
To determine whether health literacy limitations are associated with poorer antidepressant medication adherence.
Observational new prescription cohort follow-up study.
Adults with type 2 diabetes who completed a survey in 2006 and received a new antidepressant prescription during 2006–2010 (N = 1,366) at Kaiser Permanente Northern California.
Validated three-item self-report scale measured health literacy. Discrete indices of adherence based on pharmacy dispensing data according to validated methods: primary non-adherence (medication never dispensed); early non-persistence (dispensed once, never refilled); non-persistence at 180 and 365 days; and new prescription medication gap (NPMG; proportion of time that the person is without medication during 12 months after the prescription date).
Seventy-two percent of patients were classified as having health literacy limitations. After adjusting for sociodemographic and clinical covariates, patients with health literacy limitations had significantly poorer adherence compared to patients with no limitations, whether measured as early non-persistence (46 % versus 38 %, p < 0.05), non-persistence at 180 days (55 % versus 46 %, p < 0.05), or NPMG (41 % versus 36%, p < 0.01). There were no significant associations with primary adherence or non-persistence at 365 days.
Poorer antidepressant adherence among adults with diabetes and health literacy limitations may jeopardize the continuation and maintenance phases of depression pharmacotherapy. Findings underscore the importance of national efforts to address health literacy, simplify health communications regarding treatment options, improve public understanding of depression treatment, and monitor antidepressant adherence.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s11606-013-2402-8) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
health literacy; medication adherence; antidepressive agents; diabetes mellitus; healthcare disparities
Health literacy has been defined as the degree to which individuals have the capacity to obtain, process, and understand the basic health information and services needed to make appropriate health decisions. Currently, few studies have validated the causal pathways of determinants of health literacy through the use of statistical modeling. The purpose of the present study was to develop and validate a health literacy model at an individual level that could best explain the determinants of health literacy and the associations between health literacy and health behaviors even health status.
Skill-based health literacy test and a self-administrated questionnaire survey were conducted among 3222 Chinese adult residents. Path analysis was applied to validate the model.
The model explained 38.6% of variance for health literacy, 11.7% for health behavior and 2.3% for health status: (GFI = 0.9990; RMR = 0.0521; χ2 = 10.2151, P = 0.1159). Education has positive and direct effect on prior knowledge (β = 0.324) and health literacy (β = 0.346). Health literacy is also affected by prior knowledge (β = 0.245) and age (β = -0.361). Health literacy is a direct influencing factor of health behavior (β = 0.101). The most important factor of health status is age (β = 0.107). Health behavior and health status have a positive interaction effect.
This model explains the determinants of health literacy and the associations between health literacy and health behaviors well. It could be applied to develop intervention strategies to increase individual health literacy, and then to promote health behavior and health status.
Health literacy; Health behavior; Determinants; Causal pathways
Nowadays, no student can ever pursue the ends of his studies unless he makes use of his information literacy skills. To become lifelong learners, they do need these skills. Information literacy is a set of information needed for searching, retrieval, evaluating, and making best use of information. This study uncovers the relationship between information literacy and academic performance among students at Isfahan University of Medical Sciences.
Materials and Methods:
This is a practical study using a survey method. All MA students in Isfahan University of Medical Sciences make the statistical population for this study, according to the sample size determined by using Cochran formula 265 samples that were selected by stratified random sampling. Data collection was through information literacy questionnaires designed by Davarpanah and Siamak, verified by Library and Information Sciences experts; and finally, gave a Cronbach's alpha of 0.83. To determine academic performance, the average scores of the students in previous semesters were considered.
The information literacy of all other students was significantly higher than medium except for students at Nursing and Nutrition faculties. The students of Management and Information Sciences faculty had the highest level of information literacy and students of nutrition faculty were attributed with the least level. There was no significant difference between male and female students’ information literacy. We also found out that there was a significant positive relationship between information literacy and students’ academic performance in Isfahan University of Medical Sciences.
Information literacy is one of the most important factors that leads to educational success. As there is a significant positive relationship between information literacy and students’ academic performance, we should necessarily provide them with relative skills dealing with information literacy to improve their academic performance.
Academic performance; information literacy; students; Isfahan University of Medical Sciences
Self-reported screening questions are considered as an effective way to identify patients with limited health literacy. Yet research has shown that individuals tend to over-report their reading level. Moreover, the likelihood of over-reporting may differ between gender groups. This study examined if systematic differences exist between men and women in their response to self-reported screening questions.
A national survey in Taiwan with participants selected using a multistage stratified, probability-proportional-to-size sampling strategy.
A total of 5682 Taiwanese adults aged 18 and older were sampled and recruited. Of those adults, 3491 participated in the survey, resulting in a 62.1% response rate. Both gender groups were equally represented in the final study sample.
Self-reported health literacy was assessed using two sets of questions that asked how difficult it was for the respondent to understand written health materials and how often the participant needed assistance from others to understand written health materials. The objective level of health literacy was measured using the Mandarin Health Literacy Scale (MHLS).
A significant gender difference was observed among participants who had inadequate health literacy: while women's self-report was in line with the MHLS test result, men had a significant tendency to over-report their comprehension of health information.
In Taiwan, screening questions are prone to socially desirable response and may underidentify male patients with inadequate health literacy. Development of a brief and easy-to-use health literacy test may be a more effective approach to health literacy screening in clinical settings. Alternatively, clinicians can verify patient comprehension of health information via the ‘teach back’ or ‘show me’ technique in order to improve communication and patient care. Research is needed to examine if gender differences in self-report of health literacy exist in other countries.
health literacy; screening; self-report; gender difference
Specific cognitive abilities may explain the association of health literacy with health status. We studied the relationship between health literacy and memory and verbal fluency in older adults.
Twenty senior centers and apartment buildings in New York City, NY.
Independently living, English and Spanish-speaking adults ages 60 and older (n=414).
Health literacy was measured using the Short Test of Functional Health Literacy in Adults (S-TOFHLA). The associations of S-TOFHLA scores with immediate and delayed recall (Wechsler Memory Scale II), verbal fluency (Animal Naming), and global cognitive function (Mini Mental Status Exam, MMSE), were modeled with multivariable logistic and linear regression.
Health literacy was inadequate in 24.3%. Impairment of immediate recall occurred in 20.4%; delayed recall, 15.0%; verbal fluency, 9.9%; and MMSE, 17.4%. Abnormal cognitive function was strongly associated with inadequate health literacy: immediate recall (AOR 3.44, 95% CI 1.71 to 6.94, p<.0001); delayed recall (AOR 3.48, 95% CI 1.58 to 7.67, p = .002); and verbal fluency (AOR 3.47, 95% CI 1.44 to 8.38, p=.006). These associations persisted in subgroups that excluded individuals with normal age-adjusted MMSE scores.
Memory and verbal fluency are strongly associated with health literacy, independently of education and health status, even among those with subtle cognitive dysfunction. Reducing the cognitive burden of health information might mitigate the detrimental effects of limited health literacy in older adults. Research that examines the impact of materials tailored to older adults' cognitive limitations on health literacy and health outcomes is needed.
Health literacy; cognitionl; older adults
This study used eye-tracking technology to explore how individuals with different levels of health literacy visualize health-related information. The authors recruited 25 university administrative staff (more likely to have adequate health literacy skills) and 25 adults enrolled in an adult literacy program (more likely to have limited health literacy skills). The authors administered the Newest Vital Sign (NVS) health literacy assessment to each participant. The assessment involves having individuals answer questions about a nutrition label while viewing the label. The authors used computerized eye-tracking technology to measure the amount of time each participant spent fixing their view at nutrition label information that was relevant to the questions being asked and the amount of time they spent viewing nonrelevant information. Results showed that lower NVS scores were significantly associated with more time spent on information not relevant for answering the NVS items. This finding suggests that efforts to improve health literacy measurement should include the ability to differentiate not just between individuals who have difficulty interpreting and using health information, but also between those who have difficulty finding relevant information. In addition, this finding suggests that health education material should minimize the inclusion of nonrelevant information.
Health literacy is associated with important outcomes among patients with kidney disease, but widely used measures of health literacy can be burdensome. In an effort to make a practical assessment available, we compared the performance of the three-item brief health literacy screen (BHLS) to other widely used measures of health literacy among patients with end-stage renal disease (ESRD).
Adult hemodialysis patients (n = 150) from four urban dialysis facilities participated in a cross-sectional study from 2009 to 2012. Three health literacy measures were administered including (i) the rapid estimate of adult literacy in medicine (REALM), (ii) the short test of functional health literacy in adults (S-TOFHLA) and (iii) the three-item BHLS. The mini-mental state exam assessed cognitive status, and the chronic hemodialysis knowledge survey (CHeKS) and perceived kidney disease knowledge survey (PiKS) assessed kidney knowledge. Spearman's ρs and area under the receiver-operating curves examined relationships between the aforementioned variables.
Participants had received dialysis for a mean of 4.6 years. They were 49% female, 73% African American and averaged 52 years of age. Less education and less cognitive capacity were each associated (P < 0.05) with lower health literacy for all three health literacy measures. Performance on the BHLS was significantly associated with the REALM [0.35 (95% confidence interval (95% CI): 0.20–0.49); P < 0.001] and S-TOFHLA [0.49 (95% CI: 0.35–0.69); P < 0.001], the CHeKS [0.43 (95% CI: 0.28–0.55); P < 0.001] and PiKS [0.41 (95% CI: 0.27–0.54); P < 0.001].
The BHLS demonstrates evidence of construct validity among ESRD patients. Furthermore, health literacy was associated with kidney knowledge, supporting it as a potential intervention target to improve outcomes among patients with lower health literacy.
dialysis; health literacy; knowledge; patient education; validation