Online Program

Health literacy and older adults: What do we know and where do we go from here?

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Nikki Keene Woods, PhD, MPH, Public Health Sciences, Wichita State University, Wichita, KS
Amy Chesser, PhD, Public Health Sciences, Wichita State University, Wichita, KS
Nicole Rogers, PhD, Public Health Sciences, Wichita State University, Wichita, KS
National estimates report only 3% of older adults to be proficient with health literacy skills. Low health literacy levels are reported predictors of disparaging health outcomes. In an attempt to further understand health literacy in the older population, a systematic literature review was conducted. Eight articles met inclusion criteria. All studies were conducted in urban settings in the United States. Study sample size ranged from 33-3,000 participants. Two studies evaluated health-related outcomes and reported significant associations between low health literacy and poorer health outcomes. Two other studies investigated the impact of health literacy on medication management, reporting mixed findings. Efforts to fully understand the variables that influence health literacy were hampered by use of diverse health literacy measures. The findings of this review highlight the importance of working to improve healthcare strategies for older adults with low health literacy and highlight the need for a standardized and validated clinical health literacy screening tool for older adults. The advantages of improving health literacy skills include improved health care decisions, communication, compliance to treatment directions, and improved health status; all of which should result in cost savings to the health care system and improved patient-provider satisfaction.

Learning Areas:

Administer health education strategies, interventions and programs
Clinical medicine applied in public health
Communication and informatics
Diversity and culture

Learning Objectives:
Describe the health literacy of older adults. Discuss what is known and what can be done to help prepare older adults to make the best healthcare decisions.

Keyword(s): Health Literacy, Aging

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have been the principal or co-principal investigator of multiple public health research studies focused on improving health outcomes and program evaluation. My scientific interests include a combination of health communication and population-level health improvements with an emphasis on the role of health literacy.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.