Health literacy is associated with health behaviour and self-reported health: A large population-based study in individuals with cardiovascular disease

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Abstract

Background

Health literacy may constitute a modifiable determinant of health behaviour and affect cardiovascular disease prevention. This study investigates the associations between health literacy and health behaviour as well as health status.

Design

A cross-sectional study on a population-based sample of people with acute myocardial infarction, angina pectoris or stroke (N = 3116).

Methods

Health literacy was assessed using two dimensions from the Health Literacy Questionnaire: ‘understanding health information’ and ‘engaging with healthcare providers’. Health behaviour included physical activity, dietary habits, smoking, alcohol consumption and body mass index. Health status was examined using Short Form Health Survey 12 version 2 (four-week recall) (physical and mental components). We used regression analyses to examine the associations.

Results

‘Understanding health information’ was inversely associated with physical inactivity (odds ratio (OR) 0.48 (0.39;0.59), unhealthy diet (OR 0.64 (0.47;0.88)), underweight (OR 0.43 (0.21;0.89)) and obesity (OR 0.79 (0.63;0.99)). ‘Engaging with healthcare providers’ was inversely associated with physical inactivity (OR 0.64 (0.53;0.77)), less than healthy diet (OR 0.79 (0.64;0.96)) and daily smoking (OR 0.81 (0.66;1.0)). An increase in ‘understanding health information’ as well as ‘engaging with healthcare providers’ was associated with an increase in both physical and mental health status.

Conclusions

The findings suggest that aspects of health literacy are associated with health status and health behaviour in cardiovascular patients and should be considered in interventions regarding cardiovascular disease prevention.

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