The aim was to describe health literacy among the older population of Kosovo, an Albanian speaking post-war country in the Western Balkans, in the context of self-perceived health status and self-reported chronic morbidity. A cross-sectional study was conducted in Kosovo in 2011 including 1753 individuals aged ≤ 65 years (886 men, 867 women; mean age 73.4 ± 6.3 years; response rate: 77%). Participants were asked to assess, on a scale from 1 to 5, their level of difficulty with regard to access, understanding, appraisal and application of health information. Sub-scale scores and an overall health literacy score were calculated for each participant. Information on self-perceived health status, presence and number of chronic diseases and socioeconomic characteristics was also collected. Mean values of the overall health literacy score and all sub-scale scores (access, understanding, appraisal and application) were lower among older people who reported a poorer health status or at least one chronic condition compared with individuals who perceived their health status as good or had no chronic conditions (p < 0.001 for all). Our findings provide valuable evidence on the independent and inverse association between health literacy levels and self-perceived health and chronic morbidity in this post-war European population. The putative link with chronic morbidity and lower adherence to health services is hard to establish through this cross-sectional study. Prospective population-based studies should be conducted in Kosovo and other transitional settings to replicate these findings and properly address the causal relationship between health literacy and health status.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Health(social science)
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health