Characterisation of health literacy strengths and weaknesses among people at metabolic and cardiovascular risk: Validity testing of the Health Literacy Questionnaire

SAGE Open Med. 2018 Sep 21;6:2050312118801250. doi: 10.1177/2050312118801250. eCollection 2018.


Objectives: Health literacy refers to the ability of individuals to gain access to, use, and understand health information and services in order to maintain a good health. The assessment of health literacy profiles in a population is potentially crucial to respond to health needs. The Health Literacy Questionnaire explores nine dimensions of health literacy and has been shown to display robust psychometric properties. The aim was to test the validity of the multidimensional Health Literacy Questionnaire and to describe the health literacy profiles in a French population at risk of cardiovascular disease.

Methods: Data were collected using self-administered questionnaires from 175 participants attending health education and support programmes in local associations of patients in Paris. Analysis included scale reliability, confirmatory factor analysis, and health literacy profiles via descriptive statistics.

Results: In confirmatory factor analysis, the nine-factor structure was close to the original Health Literacy Questionnaire. A nine-factor confirmatory factor analysis model was fitted to the 44 items with no cross-loadings or correlated residuals allowed. Given the restricted nature of the model, the fit was satisfactory: χ2 WLSMV(866 df) = 1383.81, p = 0.0000, comparative fit index = 0.925, Tucker-Lewis index = 0.918, root mean square error of approximation = 0.058, weighted root mean square residual = 1.175. Composite reliability ranged from 0.77 to 0.91. Among the 9 scales of the Health Literacy Questionnaire, the highest scores were found for scale 1 'Feeling understood and supported by healthcare professionals' and scale 9 'Understand health information enough to know what to do' and the lowest for scale 2 'Having sufficient information to manage my health' and scale 7 'Navigating the healthcare system'.

Conclusion: The French version of the Health Literacy Questionnaire was shown to be psychometrically robust with good reliability. In the context of France, the 9 scales of Health Literacy Questionnaire allow a thorough assessment of health literacy strengths and weaknesses to respond to health literacy needs and improve the accessibility of health information and services.

Keywords: Epidemiology/public health; France; cardiovascular risk; health literacy; validity testing.