Large diversity in Danish health literacy profiles: perspectives for care of long-term illness and multimorbidity

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  • Anna Sofia Elisabeth Aaby
  • Alison Beauchamp, School of Rural Health, Monash University, Department of Medicine – Western Health, University of Melbourne, Australian Institute for Musculoskeletal Science (AIMSS), Melbourne, Australia
  • Jonathan O'Hara, Health Systems Improvement Unit, Deakin University Centre for Population Health Research, School of Health and Social Development, Geelong, VIC, Australia
  • Helle Terkildsen Maindal

BACKGROUND: Health literacy is an important, modifiable, social determinant of health. This study aims to explore health literacy challenges of people with long-term illness or multimorbidity and provide detailed profiles revealing health literacy strengths and weaknesses within a Danish population.

METHODS: In this cross-sectional study among Danish individuals (n = 490), health literacy was assessed using the nine-scale Health Literacy Questionnaire (HLQ). Using multiple logistic regression and hierarchical cluster analysis, we estimated the association between HLQ scale scores and the likelihood of long-term illness and multimorbidity, and identified socio-demographic and health characteristics related to profiles of health literacy strengths and weaknesses.

RESULTS: An increase in 'actively managing my health' and 'social support for health' decreased the odds of having a long-term illness [odds ratio, OR 0.53 (0.31-0.9); OR 0.43 (0.24-0.74)] and multimorbidity [OR 0.51 (0.26-0.98); OR 0.33 (0.17-0.62)], respectively. Conversely, an increase in 'healthcare provider support' increased the odds of having long-term illness [OR 2.97 (1.78-5.08)] and multimorbidity [OR 2.94 (1.53-5.87)], respectively. Five profiles were identified based on the cluster analysis. Each cluster was characterized by specific health characteristics, e.g. Cluster A by better health status (χ2 = 39.976 (4), P < 0.001) and well-being (χ2 = 28.832 (4), P < 0.001) and Cluster D by poor health status (χ2 = 39.976 (4), P < 0.001) and increased likelihood of long-term illness (χ2 = 18.641 (4), P < 0.001).

CONCLUSIONS: The association of health literacy with long-term illness and multimorbidity in combination with the health literacy profiling based on cluster analysis provides a comprehensive needs assessment and a promising starting point for the development of health literacy responsive interventions.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberckz134
JournalEuropean Journal of Public Health
Pages (from-to)1-6
Number of pages6
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 30 Jul 2019

Bibliographical note

© The Author(s) 2019. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the European Public Health Association.

    Research areas

  • demography, health personnel, social support, health literacy, multimorbidity

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