Journal of Nursing & Care

ISSN: 2167-1168

Open Access

Health Information Literacy among Healthy Older Irish Adults


Anna McCabe and Sheelagh Wickham

Background: Health Literacy (HL) is important because substantial numbers of the Irish population (38.8%) are ignorant of their HL. Research has shown that poor HL is associated with poorer health. Older people may be further disadvantaged by deteriorating vision, hearing or other physical problems which may impact HL. With the aging demographic, it is important that HL issues are examined in this population to help identify potential avenues for improvement.

Methods: This study utilized a validated health literacy assessment tool to profile a sample of older adults in terms of health information access and utilization. Assessing the effect of providing a short educational presentation in terms of their HL scores was completed using a test re-test experimental design with the NVS (Newest Vital Sign) HL assessment tool.

Results: Of the participants recruited 40% had limited HL. The General Practitioner (GP) was considered by 80% of participants to be the first preference for sourcing health information. While 80% of the sample had Internet access at home, only half of them used it to source health information, but that 50% had substantially higher HL scores than the other 50%. The sample was too small to show any significance in terms of the educational intervention but did indicate a need for further study.

Conclusion: The study confirmed that a cohort of older Irish people has difficulties with HL. The finding pertaining to better HL skills in those who used the Internet to source health information is interesting and requires further research.


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