Health literacy, self-perceived health and self-reported chronic morbidity among older people in Kosovo.

Health promotion international

PubMedID: 24604915

Toci E, Burazeri G, Jerliu N, Sørensen K, Ramadani N, Hysa B, Brand H. Health literacy, self-perceived health and self-reported chronic morbidity among older people in Kosovo. Health Promot Int. 2014;.
The aim was to describe health literacy among the older population of Kosovo, an Albanian speaking post-war country in the Western Balkans, in the context of self-perceived health status and self-reported chronic morbidity. A cross-sectional study was conducted in Kosovo in 2011 including 1753 individuals aged =65 years (886 men, 867 women; mean age 73.4 ± 6.3 years; response rate: 77%). Participants were asked to assess, on a scale from 1 to 5, their level of difficulty with regard to access, understanding, appraisal and application of health information. Sub-scale scores and an overall health literacy score were calculated for each participant. Information on self-perceived health status, presence and number of chronic diseases and socioeconomic characteristics was also collected. Mean values of the overall health literacy score and all sub-scale scores (access, understanding, appraisal and application) were lower among older people who reported a poorer health status or at least one chronic condition compared with individuals who perceived their health status as good or had no chronic conditions (p < 0.001 for all). Our findings provide valuable evidence on the independent and inverse association between health literacy levels and self-perceived health and chronic morbidity in this post-war European population. The putative link with chronic morbidity and lower adherence to health services is hard to establish through this cross-sectional study. Prospective population-based studies should be conducted in Kosovo and other transitional settings to replicate these findings and properly address the causal relationship between health literacy and health status.