Low health literacy are linked to the mortality rate

23 Mar 2012, 01:18
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Low health literacy are linked to the mortality rate

A study published in the British Medical Journal showed that around 30 percents of people over 65 in England have difficulty understanding basic information related to health issues.


That is why, the possibility of their death within next five years is higher in comparison to the same age group with no such problems.


The study conducted by The University College London scientists was based on the survey of more than 8000 adults. The task was to read and understand aspirin instructions.


According to researchers from the department of epidemiology, low health literacy among older people has a considerable impact on the design of health services for this certain group of people.


The study used a four-questions survey, similar to those on a packet of aspirin. The main goal of the survey was to evaluate the ability to read and understand basic health-related information.


The results showed that 67,5 percents of participants had high level of health literacy, 20% was labeled as people with medium literacy and around 12,5 were perceived as a low health literacy people.


It is crucial that health literacy level is changing with the age as half of the adults aged over 80 couldn't answer all the questions correctly, while only one-quarter of the adults in the group aged less than sixty years made four mistakes.


After the survey, the study looked and participants for five years. It turned out that during aforementioned time 6.1 % died in the high literacy category, 9% in the medium and 16% in the low category.


Results presented an obvious trend that low literacy is linked to a prevalence of different chronic diseases, physical limitations and depression. The higher health literacy, on the other side, was linked to the better mental abilities, thinking etc.


The adjustment for different factors such as wealth, education, income, ethnicity and basic health didn't change the link between health literacy and the level of mortality that much.


Experts from Patient's association UK think that it is doctor's responsibility to provide information patients will understand clearly.

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