Risks associated with low functional health literacy in an Australian population

Robert John Adams, S. L. Appleton, Catherine L. Hill, Mark C. Dodd, Christopher C. Findlay, David H. Wilson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

74 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Objective: To measure the level of functional health literacy (FHL) in an Australian population, and to explore the level of risk associated with level of FHL. Design, setting and participants: Cross-sectional, random population survey administered to 2824 South Australians aged ≥ 15 years, September – October 2008. Main outcome measures: Newest Vital Sign as a measure of FHL, self-reported general health status, and use of health services. Results: 24% of respondents were at risk of limited FHL, and 21% had a high likelihood of inadequate FHL; this increased with age (≥ 65 years, 50% v 25–44 years, 11%). In multiple logistic regression models, a high likelihood of inadequate FHL was significantly more common among those with lower education (left school ≤ 15 years of age, odds ratio [OR], 8.1; 95% CI, 4.8–13.6); with lower annual income (< $20 000, OR, 4.1; 95% CI, 2.3–7.4); who were born in countries other than Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and Ireland; and with poorer health status (OR, 1.6; 95% CI, 1.2–2.2). Inadequate FHL was significantly less common among females (OR, 0.6; 95% CI, 0.5–0.8). People with inadequate or at-risk FHL were significantly more likely to report having diabetes, cardiac disease or stroke, and significantly less likely to have recently attended a doctor. Respondents aged ≥ 65 years with inadequate FHL were more likely to have been admitted to hospital (OR, 2.2; 95% CI, 1.1–4.5). Conclusion: Many Australians are likely to have limited health literacy, and this is a risk to effective health care delivery and health improvement across the community.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)530-534
Number of pages5
JournalMedical Journal of Australia
Volume191
Issue number10
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 16 Nov 2009
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Education
  • Environment and public health
  • Nutritional and metabolic diseases

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Risks associated with low functional health literacy in an Australian population'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

  • Cite this