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