What are factors that affect the disease

Which factors influence health literacy?

Certain socio-demographic characteristics are more often associated with below-average health literacy. These include a low level of education and social status, the presence of a migrant background, a higher age and the presence of chronic diseases.

Low social status

Health literacy is closely related to social, economic and health inequalities. People who are disadvantaged due to poor education or limited access to financial and social resources face greater difficulties in dealing with health-related information. Compared to people with a high social status and good resources, they have a higher proportion of restricted health literacy.

People with a low level of education are twice as likely to find it difficult to deal with health-related information as people with a high level of education. Of the people with a low social status, 78 percent have problematic or inadequate health literacy, while the figure is only 38 percent for those with a high social status. Linking social inequality and health literacy is a particular challenge in times of growing socio-demographic differences. Limited health literacy and a lack of ability to handle health-related information appropriately can exacerbate existing health inequalities.

People with a migration background do significantly worse than the average for the population:

  • Almost 18 percent of them have inadequate health literacy and 53 percent have problematic health literacy (1).
  • From their point of view, the requirements in the area of ​​health promotion are the most difficult to cope with: Almost 70 percent have limited health literacy in this area and, for example, have considerable difficulties in assessing how their living environment affects health and well-being.

Because the proportion of people with different migration backgrounds in Germany continues to rise, this population group will need more attention in the future - also when it comes to promoting health literacy. It should be noted that this group is inherently very heterogeneous and shows great cultural and linguistic diversity.

The elderly are also among the groups for whom the use of health information poses challenges.

  • Two thirds of the older population in Germany have limited health literacy.
  • Only three out of 100 people who are 65 years of age or older do not see any problems with finding, understanding, evaluating and implementing health-relevant information.
  • Among older people aged 75 and over, the proportion of people with limited health literacy is over 75 percent (36).

The high proportion of restricted health literacy among older people is a challenge, especially in view of the ongoing demographic change.

People with chronic illnesses or disabilities are confronted with problems in dealing with health-related information above average.

  • Only a minority of respondents who live with a chronic illness find it easy to deal with health-related information.
  • Almost three quarters - around 73 percent - rate the associated requirements as difficult and show limited health literacy (1).

One of the reasons for this lies in the higher demands that people with a chronic illness are confronted with in coping with the illness and navigating the health system.