Psychosocial correlates of health literacy among older patients with coronary heart disease

J Health Commun. 2010 Oct;15(7):788-804. doi: 10.1080/10810730.2010.514030.


This study examined psychosocial correlates of health literacy (HL) scores among older patients with coronary heart disease (CHD). A cross-sectional survey assessed psychosocial factors relating to the following: self-efficacy (i.e., perception of ability to perform a specified behavior) for diet, exercise, medication, and for a future attempt to quit smoking; social support; social stigma; appointment attendance; knowledge of heart problems; and understanding of health information. Health literacy was measured by the Rapid Estimate of Adult Literacy in Medicine (REALM). Of 321 patients, 70 had a REALM score in the low HL range (<60). When adjusting for demographics, a lower REALM score was significantly associated with reports of increased difficulty understanding health information (p < .001), less knowledge of heart problems (p = .002), increased discomfort about asking for explanations of health information (p = .014), less support with discussing health problems (p = .020). Patients with CHD and low HL are likely to face psychosocial challenges when managing their health problems. In order to encourage these individuals to seek help, health professionals need to be aware of the psychosocial characteristics of patients with low HL. These individuals may need behavioral support to increase both their self-efficacy and their understanding of their medical condition.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Coronary Disease / psychology*
  • Coronary Disease / therapy
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Health Literacy*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care / psychology*
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care / statistics & numerical data
  • Physician-Patient Relations
  • Qualitative Research
  • Self Efficacy
  • Social Stigma
  • Social Support
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Young Adult