Document Type : Original Article


The Student’s Research Committee, Department of Public Health, School of Health, Shahid Beheshti University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran


Background: Health literacy is a measure of individual’s ability to read, comprehend, and act
on medical instructions. Older adults are one of the most important at risk groups affected
by the impact of inadequate health literacy. Health promoting behaviors in older adults have
potential impact on their health and quality of life and reduce the costs incurred to health care.
Given the paucity of information health literacy and health promoting behavior, the purpose
of this study was to examine health literacy level in older adults and the relationship between
health literacy and health promoting behaviors. Materials and Method: A cross‑sectional survey
of 354 older adults was conducted in Isfahan. The method of sampling was clustering. Health
literacy was measured using the Test of Functional Health Literacy in Adults (TOFHLA). Data
were collected via home interviewing. Health promoting behaviors were measured based on
self‑reported smoking status, exercise, and consumption of fruit and vegetables. The collected
data were analyzed using descriptive statistics and one‑way ANOVA and χ2 tests under SPSS
18 software. Results: The sample group averaged 67 ± 6.97 years in age. Approximately 79.6%
of adults were found to have inadequate health literacy. They tended to be older, have fewer
years of schooling, lower household income, and being female Individuals with inadequate
health literacy were more likely to report limitations in activity and lower consumption of fruit
and vegetables (P < 0.001). No significant association was found between health literacy
and smoking status. Conclusion: Considering high prevalence of inadequate health literacy
among older adults, and its inverse relationship with some health promoting behaviors. Simple
educational materials and effective interventions for low health literacy people can improve
health promotion in society and mitigate the adverse health effects of low health literacy.


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