Health literacy, health behaviour and older adults

In the latest special health literacy issue of the Journal of Health Communication (published in September 2016), Bas Geboers and his colleagues published the results of a new LifeLines study on the relation between health literacy and various health behaviors and social factors among older adults. The results showed that, in a large sample of older adults, low health literacy was related with a large number of health behaviors, including physical activity and fruit and vegetable consumption. Low health literacy was also related with greater loneliness, engaging in fewer social activities, and having fewer social contacts. The association between health literacy and smoking was moderated by social contacts, but in general, social factors seldom moderate the associations between health literacy and health behaviors. The findings of this new study show that low health literacy in older adults is not only related with their overall health status, but also with their engagement in various health behaviors and with their social situation. Initiatives that aim to counteract the negative effects that low health literacy has on older adults should take these relations into account. 

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