Half of men have low health literacy, survey finds

Half of men have low health literacy, survey finds
File photo

A survey has found almost half of men had low health literacy, meaning they were less likely to know about methods to prevent getting cancer and other serious illnesses.

Researchers questioned 259 men as part of a study into how men seek information regarding cancer, the effect of health literacy on that behaviour and their preferences regarding how that information should be delivered.

Of the 259 men who completed the questionnaire, 44% had inadequate health literacy. About one-half of respondents reported “ever” actively looking for cancer information, while almost one-fifth of those questioned actively sought and 67% passively acquired Irish Cancer Society-specific information.

The study, published in the Health Literacy Research and Practice journal and conducted by researchers at University College Cork, led by Dr Frances Drummond, said: "Most men get cancer prevention information by coming across it passively in their daily lives, instead of actively looking for this information.

Men with low health literacy are less likely to obtain cancer information both passively and actively. Men want this information. Organizations need to make this information available in many places and formats (e.g., Internet, doctor, television, sports clubs).

Questionnaire packs were dispatched to all NALA (National Adult Literacy Agency) literacy classes nationally and notification was issued to 250 Irish Men's Sheds Association members asking them to invite members to complete the questionnaire.

Of those who responded, the mean age was 54, 64% were married and just over half had low educational attainment.

One-fifth had a personal cancer diagnosis, and the wife/partner of 9% of men had a prior cancer diagnosis. Cancer fear was high for 61% of men, and 57% reported high discomfort thinking about cancer.

According to the study: "The majority (81.4%) want cancer information in the future, with no difference by health literacy level. Men with adequate versus inadequate health literacy were significantly more likely to want information from every source except from television.

"This study shows that men aged 40 years and older use different cancer information-seeking behaviours, with passive information acquisition the most frequently reported."

- The report can be read here

More on this topic

Immunotherapy drug boosts lung cancer survival – studyImmunotherapy drug boosts lung cancer survival – study

Tipperary firm ups the fight against cancerTipperary firm ups the fight against cancer

Poem on a pill highlights cancer fightPoem on a pill highlights cancer fight

Friends plead for financial support for funeral of cancer awareness advocate Tina PottsFriends plead for financial support for funeral of cancer awareness advocate Tina Potts