Objective: Age is generally an inverse predictor of health literacy. However, the role of cognitive dysfunction among older adults in this relationship is not understood.
Methods: We conducted a cross-sectional survey of 446 adult patients in a large urban academic level one trauma center, assessing health literacy and cognitive dysfunction.
Results: Removing older patients (60 years of age and older) who screened positive for cognitive dysfunction attenuated the relationship between age and health literacy (r=-0.16, p=0.001 vs. r=-0.35, p<0.0001). Older patients screening positive for cognitive dysfunction had significantly lower health literacy than older patients screening negative and patients less than 60 years; health literacy scores did not generally differ significantly between the latter groups.
Conclusion: Much of the relationship between age and health literacy was driven by cognitive dysfunction among a subset of older adults.
Practice implications: Our findings suggest that older patients with cognitive dysfunction have the greatest need for health literacy interventions.
Keywords: Age; Cognitive dysfunction; Cognitive status; Health literacy; Patient intervention.
Copyright © 2014 Elsevier Ireland Ltd. All rights reserved.