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

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Gill Rowlands



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License (CC BY-NC 4.0).


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=3,116). 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 BMI. Health status was examined using SF-12 (physical and mental components). We used regression analyses to examine the associations. Results ‘Understand health information’ was inversely associated with physical inactivity (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.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Aaby A, Friis K, Christensen B, Rowlands G, Maindal HT

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: European Journal of Preventive Cardiology

Year: 2017

Volume: 24

Issue: 17

Pages: 1880-1888

Print publication date: 01/11/2017

Online publication date: 31/08/2017

Acceptance date: 12/08/2017

Date deposited: 10/10/2017

ISSN (print): 2047-4873

ISSN (electronic): 2047-4881

Publisher: Sage Publications Ltd.


DOI: 10.1177/2047487317729538


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