Health literacy and health behaviors in parent-adolescent dyads: an actor-partner interdependence model approach

Psychol Health. 2022 Sep 1;1-20. doi: 10.1080/08870446.2022.2117809. Online ahead of print.


Objective: Health literacy (HL), skills for accessing, appraising and using health information in health decision-making is implicated in adolescents' health behaviors. HL skills develop through scaffolding, modeling, practice and opportunity. Therefore, adolescents' HL skills are likely closely tied to parents' HL and health behaviors. Yet, no studies have examined the dyadic interdependence of the relationship between HL and health behaviors between parents and adolescents. The purpose of this study was to determine the interdependence of adolescents' and parents' HL and health behaviors.

Methods and measures: Data were collected from 300 parent-adolescent dyads via Qualtrics Panel. Dyads completed identical measures of their HL, diet, physical activity, sedentary activity, cigarette-smoking, vaping, and alcohol binge-drinking behaviors. Data were analyzed using Pearson correlations and the Actor-Partner Interdependence Model.

Results: Within-dyad correlations were significant for HL and all health behaviors assessed. After controlling for covariates and partner effects, adolescents' HL was related to their sugar-sweetened beverage intake, sedentary activity, and substance use. After controlling for covariates and actor effects, adolescents' HL was related to parents' sedentary activity, binge-drinking, and vaping while parents' HL was related to adolescents' sedentary activity.

Conclusion: Our results suggest that there is interdependence in these relationships especially for risk behaviors.

Keywords: Actor-partner interdependence model; adolescents; diet; health literacy; parents; physical activity; substance use.