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Canadian Journal of Public Health

, Volume 109, Issue 3, pp 401–409 | Cite as

Assessing health literacy among older adults living in subsidized housing: a cross-sectional study

  • Gina Agarwal
  • Kendra Habing
  • Melissa Pirrie
  • Ric Angeles
  • Francine Marzanek
  • Jenna Parascandalo
Quantitative Research

Abstract

Objectives

This study aimed to assess functional health literacy levels among older adults living in subsidized housing in Hamilton, Ontario, and to assess the relationships between health literacy and other important health indicators, such as education level, age, ethnicity, body mass index (BMI), and self-reported health status.

Methods

Older adults (n = 237) living in subsidized housing buildings in Hamilton, ON, were assessed using the NVS-UK as a measure of functional health literacy in addition to a health indicator questionnaire through structured interview. Health literacy levels were analyzed using descriptive statistics and logistic regression to determine relationships between health literacy levels and other health indicators.

Results

Participants’ mean age was 73 years, 67% were female, 70% were not educated beyond high school, and 91% were white. Over 82% of participants had below adequate health literacy levels using the NVS-UK. Multivariable logistic regression revealed significant relationships between functional health literacy and BMI, education level, and pain and discomfort levels. No significant relationships were found between health literacy level and age group, anxiety and depression levels, CANRISK (Diabetes risk) score, gender, marital status, mobility issues, self-care issues, self-reported health status, or performance of usual activities.

Conclusions

As the population of older adults continues to grow, the appropriate resources must be available to both improve and support the health literacy level of the population. Future health research should gather information on the health literacy levels of target populations to ensure more equitable health service. This research provides a significant opportunity to better understand populations with health literacy barriers.

Keywords

Health literacy Aged Housing for the elderly Seniors Social housing Socioeconomic status 

Résumé

Objectifs

Évaluer les niveaux de littératie fonctionnelle en matière de santé chez des adultes âgés vivant dans des logements subventionnés à Hamilton, en Ontario, ainsi que les relations entre la littératie en santé et d’autres indicateurs de santé importants, comme le niveau d’instruction, l’âge, l’ethnicité, l’indice de masse corporelle (IMC) et l’état de santé autodéclaré.

Méthode

Des adultes âgés (n = 237) vivant dans des immeubles à logements subventionnés à Hamilton (Ontario) ont été évalués à l’aide de l’outil NVS-UK (Newest Vital Sign UK) pour mesurer leur littératie fonctionnelle en matière de santé et ont rempli un questionnaire d’indicateurs de santé lors d’entretiens dirigées. Leurs niveaux de littératie en santé ont été analysés par statistique descriptive et par régression logistique pour déterminer les relations entre les niveaux de littératie en santé et les autres indicateurs de santé.

Résultats

Les participants avaient 73 ans en moyenne, 67% étaient des femmes, 70% n’avaient qu’un diplôme d’études secondaires, et 91% étaient de race blanche. Plus de 82% avaient des niveaux de littératie en santé insuffisants selon le NVS-UK. L’analyse de régression logistique multivariée a mis au jour des relations significatives entre la littératie fonctionnelle en matière de santé et l’IMC, le niveau d’instruction et les niveaux de douleur et d’inconfort. Aucune relation significative n’a été observée entre les niveaux de littératie en santé et le groupe d’âge, les niveaux d’anxiété et de dépression, la note au questionnaire CANRISK (sur le risque de diabète), le sexe, l’état matrimonial, les problèmes de mobilité, les problèmes d’autosoins, l’état de santé autodéclaré ou l’accomplissement des tâches de la vie quotidienne.

Conclusions

Avec la croissance continue de la population adulte âgée, il faudra trouver des ressources appropriées pour améliorer et maintenir les niveaux de littératie en santé de la population. Les futures études de recherche en santé devraient recueillir des données sur les niveaux de littératie en santé de populations cibles pour améliorer l’équité de l’offre de services de santé. Notre étude offre une importante possibilité de mieux comprendre les populations confrontées à des obstacles sur le plan de la littératie en santé.

Mots-clés

Compétence informationnelle en santé Sujet âgé Résidences pour personnes âgées Aînés Logement social Statut socioéconomique 

Notes

Acknowledgements

We would like to acknowledge the help and support of the City of Hamilton Housing Department.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.

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Copyright information

© The Canadian Public Health Association 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gina Agarwal
    • 1
    • 2
  • Kendra Habing
    • 1
  • Melissa Pirrie
    • 1
  • Ric Angeles
    • 1
  • Francine Marzanek
    • 1
  • Jenna Parascandalo
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Family MedicineMcMaster UniversityHamiltonCanada
  2. 2.Department of Health, Evidence and ImpactMcMaster UniversityHamiltonCanada

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