Poor literacy increases early death risk

One in three adults aged over 65 in England have difficulty understanding basic health-related information, suggests a study in the BMJ.They are more than twice as likely to die within five years as adults with no literacy problems, it was found.

The University College London study tested nearly 8,000 adults on their understanding of aspirin instructions.The Patients Association said patients should help draft information leaflets so they are “relevant and clear”.

The researchers, from the department of epidemiology and public health at University College London, said that limited or low health literacy among older people has implications for the design and delivery of health services for this section of the population.

Using a short test containing four questions, based on instructions similar to those found on a packet of aspirin, the researchers assessed the participants’ ability to read and understand the information.

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