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The Mechanisms Linking Health Literacy to Behavior and Health Status

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Objective : To examine the mechanisms linking health literacy to physical activity and selfreported health.

Methods : From 2005-2007, patients (N = 330) with hypertension were recruited from safety net clinics. Pathanalytic models tested the pathways linking health literacy to physical activity and self-reported health.

Results : There were significant paths from health literacy to knowledge (r = 0.22, P < 0.001), knowledge to self-efficacy (r = 0.13, P < 0.01), self-efficacy to physical activity (r = 0.17, P < 0.01), and physical activity to health status (r = 0.17, P < 0.01).

Conclusions : Health education interventions should be literacy sensitive and aim to enhance patient health knowledge and self-efficacy to promote self-care behavior and desirable health outcomes.

Keywords: health behavior; health literacy; health status; knowledge; selfefficacy

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1 Assistant Professor of Medicine, Vanderbilt University Medical Center, Department of Medicine, Nashville, TN.

Publication date: January 1, 2011

More about this publication?
  • The American Journal of Health Behavior seeks to improve the quality of life through multidisciplinary health efforts in fostering a better understanding of the multidimensional nature of both individuals and social systems as they relate to health behaviors.

    The Journal aims to provide a comprehensive understanding of the impact of personal attributes, personality characteristics, behavior patterns, social structure, and processes on health maintenance, health restoration, and health improvement; to disseminate knowledge of holistic, multidisciplinary approaches to designing and implementing effective health programs; and to showcase health behavior analysis skills that have been proven to affect health improvement and recovery.

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