Low Health Literacy Associated with Higher Mortality Rates

March 21, 2012 | Strategic Insights for Health System


Adults age 52 and older who demonstrated low health literacy were found to be more than twice as likely to die within five years than older adults with high health literacy, reports a study in BMJ. Extrapolating the results, these researchers estimate that nearly one-third of elderly adults in England are unable to understand the directions on their medication containers. They also found that age, baseline health, and socioeconomic status only accounted for half of the increased risk. Researchers used a four-question test to assess participants’ ability to comprehend a sample medication’s directions, and participant data was drawn from the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing.

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