The Association of Health Literacy, Understanding of Health Information, and Food Choice in Female Caregivers

Sunday, 30 July 2017

Sukhee Ahn, PhD, RN, WHNP1
Jiwon Oh, MSN1
Jisoon Kim, MSN1
Seyeon Park, MSN1
Hyeji Yoo, BSN2
(1)College of Nursing, Chungnam National University, Daejeon, Korea, Republic of (South)
(2)College of Nursing, Chungnam National University, College of Nursing, Daejeon, Korea, Republic of (South)

Purpose:  Female caregivers play an important role to take care of their family health and food choice when one of family members is sick. Caregivers with inadequate health literacy skills have been shown to have poorer understanding of anticipatory guidance such as healthy food choice. Little is known about the relationships among health literacy, understanding of health information, and food choice in female caregivers at hospitals. This study was to explore the relationships among health literacy, understanding of health information, and food choice in female caregivers of adult patients in Korea.

Methods:  Using a cross-sectional survey design, 217 female caregivers were recruited from 5 hospitals via convenience sampling. Health literacy was measured by 6 items of Newest Vital Sign (NVS). Understanding health information was measured by 8 items of Mandarine health literacy scale (Lee S-YD, Tsai T-I, Tsai Y-W, 2013) from National Health Research Institutes. Food choice was measured by 12 items based on USDA Diet and health knowledge survey.

Results:  Mean age of female caregivers were 44.52 years old (SD=12.25) and 46% graduated college and above, and most of them (68%) were wife. Level of health literacy was 3.62(SD=2.09) ranged from 0 to 6 indicating inadequate level. Correction rates for NVS items to measure health literacy was wide ranged from 26% to 80%. Level of understanding health information was about 3 point out of 5 indicating greater need for further explanation. They believed to have strong relationships between illness and food nutrients such as calories, trans-fat, cholesterol, and sodium. However, only 31% of women read food label. Women’s better health literacy and greater perceived benefit of healthy diet pattern were associated with better food choice.

Conclusion:  Female caregivers reported inadequate health literacy but they believed illness and food nutrients were highly related. Health literacy and healthy food choice were related. Health education and counseling for female caregivers may help promoting women and their family health.