What difference does it make to be health literate? Probing into the associations between health literacy scores and health behaviors

Lehmann, Susanne; Abel, Thomas (31 March 2016). What difference does it make to be health literate? Probing into the associations between health literacy scores and health behaviors (Unpublished). In: Dreiländerkongress "Bildung und Gesundheit". Nürnberg. 30.03.-01.04.2016.

Background: Various scales are available today to assess individuals’ health literacy (hl). Based on scores from those scales, some studies found positive correlations between health literacy and healthy behaviors. However, very little is known about how much (more) health literacy does it take to make a difference in individuals’ health behaviors. Methods: We analyzed data from the Swiss Federal Survey of Adolescents (YASS) 2010-2011 to study the associations between young Swiss men’s hl scores and their physical act ivity, smoking, binge drinking, and energy drink use (n=9516). We used the “Health literacy among young adults scale” (scores ranging range 0-37). Linear regression analysis was applied to explore the association between continuous hl scores and continuous smoking or drinking scores. Logistic regression analysis was used to predict the likelihood of engaging in health behaviors by health literacy score quartiles. Analysis were conducted separately for three educational classes. Results: Coefficients for continuous effects were small (r=-0.2 for number of cigarettes per day; r= -0.04 for number of drinks per binge drinking). Health literacy sum score quartiles showed substantial associations: across all educational classes the odds of being physically active (OR=2.86, p<0.001), being a non-smoker (1.51, p<0.001) and not consuming energy drinks regularly (OR=1.49, p<0.001) were increased among persons in the highest health literacy score quartile compared to those in the lowest. Moreover, effect sizes varied substantially across educational classes. Conclusion: We found no meaningful differences in small point variations of health literacy for health behaviors among young Swiss men. However, bigger differences in health literacy scores were associated with particular health behaviors and these associations may be particularly meaningful in some educational groups.

Item Type:

Conference or Workshop Item (Speech)


04 Faculty of Medicine > Pre-clinic Human Medicine > Institute of Social and Preventive Medicine

UniBE Contributor:

Lehmann, Susanne and Abel, Thomas


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




Susanne Lehmann

Date Deposited:

18 Jul 2016 15:14

Last Modified:

04 Jan 2017 11:46



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