The role of gender in determining the level of health literacy in Korean adults is unclear. This study aimed to investigate the level of health literacy in Korean adults and identify factors associated with health literacy by gender. This study employed a cross-sectional survey design with a convenient sample of 585 community-dwelling Korean adults age19 years and older. Health literacy was measured by using eight items selected from Chew et al.’s 16-question self-reported health literacy measure. In accordance with Andersen’s health behavior model, predisposing, enabling, and need factors were included in the multiple regression model. Women indicated a higher level of health literacy than men in understanding medical forms, directions on medication bottles, and written information offered by health care providers. Additionally, for Korean women, a higher level of health literacy was associated with attaining a higher education level and having a consistent place to receive care. Unmarried men and men who had higher self-rated health reported a higher level of health literacy compared with their counterparts. Lower level of depression and higher monthly income were significantly linked to a higher level of health literacy in both men and women. This study has established the importance of gender differences in health literacy and suggests gender-specific intervention may be warranted to reduce the existing gap in health literacy in both Korean men and women. Future research should replicate this study to confirm whether or not our finding is an international phenomenon.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
The author(s) disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article: Funding for this research was provided by a grant from the Minnesota Agricultural Experiment Station (MIN-55-01) to the first author.
© 2014, © The Author(s) 2014.
- Korean adults
- health behavior model
- health equity
- health literacy