Health Literacy and Health Behaviors in Adults [paper]




Hamilton, Rebecca
Barlow, Vanessa
Qiu, Shan
Debault, Jon

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Health literacy is fundamental to healthcare as it requires individuals to actively participate in decision-making and illness management. Low health literacy leads to increased medical errors, poor use of health services, improper management of health conditions, inadequate self-care skills, and longer and more frequent hospitalizations. This cross-sectional study aimed to assess the health literacy levels in adults and explore the relationships among health literacy, health- related behaviors, and health status. A convenience sample of 230 adults completed online survey or paper-and-pencil survey from October 2019 to November 2019. The study survey included Health Literacy Questionnaire, health status items from Behavior Risk Factor Surveillance System, and International Physical Activity Questionnaire-SF. About a quarter of participants rated their general health status as poor or fair. The mean scores for basic health literacy and advanced health literacy were 3.00 and 2.83, respectively. There were significant differences in health literacy scores among educational level, ethnicity, and body mass index (p <0.05). Simultaneous multiple regression analyses showed that sedentary lifestyle measured by sitting minutes per day was a positive predictor of days of poor physical health (β=0.21; p=0.001) and days of poor mental health (β=0.18; p=0.005). Basic health literacy was a negative predictor of days of poor physical health (β= -0.29; p=0.001) and days of poor daily activities (β=-0.22; p=0.015). In the primary care setting, health care providers are responsible for educating patients on health-related concepts to heal or prevent illnesses. With an understanding of the health literacy needs of certain patient populations, healthcare providers can tailor the education to the literacy needs of individual patients.


A capstone project submitted to the St. David's School of Nursing at Texas State University in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Science in Nursing, May 2019.


health literacy, health behaviors, health outcomes, health education, Nursing


Hamilton, R., Barlow, V., Qiu, S., & Debault, J. (2019). Health literacy and health behaviors in adults. St. David's School of Nursing, Texas State University.


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