Factors associated with health literacy in multimorbid patients in primary care: a cross-sectional study in Switzerland.

N'Goran, Alexandra A; Pasquier, Jérôme; Deruaz-Luyet, Anouk; Burnand, Bernard; Haller, Dagmar M; Neuner-Jehle, Stefan; Zeller, Andreas; Streit, Sven; Herzig, Lilli; Bodenmann, Patrick (2018). Factors associated with health literacy in multimorbid patients in primary care: a cross-sectional study in Switzerland. BMJ open, 8(2), e018281. BMJ Publishing Group 10.1136/bmjopen-2017-018281

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OBJECTIVE To identify factors associated with health literacy in multimorbid patients. DESIGN A nationwide cross-sectional study in Switzerland. Univariate and multivariate linear regressions were calculated to identify variables associated with health literacy. A multiple imputation approach was used to deal with missing values. PARTICIPANTS Multimorbid patients recruited in primary care settings (n=888), above 18 years old and suffering from at least 3 of 75 chronic conditions on a predefined list based on the International Classification of Primary Care 2. MAIN MEASURES Health literacy was assessed using the European Health Literacy Survey project questionnaire (HLS-EU 6). This comprises six items scored from 1 to 4 (very difficult=1, fairly difficult=2, fairly easy=3, very easy=4), and the total health literacy score is computed as their mean. As we wished to understand the determinants associated with lower health literacy, the HLS-EU 6 score was the only dependent variable; all other covariates were considered independent. RESULTS The mean health literacy score (SD) was 2.9 (0.5). Multivariate analyses found significant associations between low health literacy scores and treatment burden scores (β=-0.004, 95% CI -0.006 to 0.002); marital status, predominantly the divorced group (β=0.136, 95% CI 0.012 to 0.260); dimensions of the EuroQuol 5 Dimension 3 Level (EQ5D3L) quality of life assessment, that is, for moderate problems with mobility (β=-0.086, 95% CI -0.157 to 0.016); and with moderate problems (β=-0.129, 95% CI -0.198 to 0.060) and severe problems with anxiety/depression (β=-0.343, 95% CI -0.500 to 0.186). CONCLUSIONS Multimorbid patients with a high treatment burden, altered quality of life by problems with mobility, anxiety or depression, often also have low levels of health literacy. Primary care practitioners should therefore pay particular attention to these patients in their daily practice.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


04 Faculty of Medicine > Medical Education > Institute of General Practice and Primary Care (BIHAM)

UniBE Contributor:

Streit, Sven


600 Technology > 610 Medicine & health
300 Social sciences, sociology & anthropology > 360 Social problems & social services




BMJ Publishing Group




Doris Kopp Heim

Date Deposited:

13 Mar 2018 13:35

Last Modified:

26 Oct 2019 04:22

Publisher DOI:


PubMed ID:


Uncontrolled Keywords:

general medicine (see internal medicine) primary care public health





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