Understanding the role of health literacy in self-management and health behaviors among older adults

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    Abstract

    Older adults with low health literacy can improve their health if they learn to self-manage their well-being and improve their physical activity and their dietary pattern.

    One of the major challenges in health care is the problem of low health literacy. Especially older adults often have low health literacy, which can harm their health. It is difficult to improve older adults’ health literacy itself. It is therefore important to gain insight into the underlying mechanisms: how does health literacy impact on the health of older adults. Such insight would allow for the development of measures to improve the health status of older adults with low health literacy.

    In his thesis, Bas Geboers shows how older adults’ level of health literacy is related with their cognitive functioning and their health behaviors, which in turn can lead to poorer health. The large-scale studies on which he reports were conducted among community-based older adults. Additionally, a literature review was performed. Older adults’ level of health literacy proved to be related with their level of physical activity and their fruit and vegetable consumption, and also with their abilities to self-manage their own health. No strong relation between health literacy and medication adherence was found. Social factors had little influence on the identified relations. Additionally, cognitive functioning seems to be an important predictor of health literacy at an older age.

    To add healthy years to their life, it is important older adults with low health literacy learn to self-manage their health on a longer term. Improving their physical activity and their dietary pattern are important goals. Further research should investigate how these goals can be achieved best.
    Original languageEnglish
    QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
    Awarding Institution
    • University of Groningen
    Supervisors/Advisors
    • Reijneveld, Menno, Supervisor
    • Jansen, Carel, Supervisor
    • de Winter, Andrea, Co-supervisor
    Award date14-Jun-2017
    Publisher
    Print ISBNs978-90-367-9517-3
    Electronic ISBNs978-90-367-9516-6
    Publication statusPublished - 2017

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