Relationship between health literacy and concern about falling in community-living older people

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Embargoed until 2023-12-28
Copyright: Lim, Mae
Concern about falling is a common and serious health concern for older people. However, older people's participation in proven interventions for reducing concern about falling remains low. Health literacy could be influential to older people’s long-term participation in health programs for concern about falling. This thesis aimed to understand the relationship between health literacy and concern about falling in community-living older people. Six studies were conducted: (i) proposed a multicomponent theoretical model on health literacy and concern about falling; (ii) conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis exploring the relationship between health literacy and physical activity; (iii) developed and validated the Falls Health Literacy Scale (FHLS), a health literacy instrument specific to falls; (iv) developed cut-points for the 30-item and 10-item Iconographical Falls Efficacy Scales (IconFES) and evaluated their construct and predictive validity to falls and reduced physical activity; (v) assessed the effectiveness of a six-week online cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) program for reducing concern about falling; (vi) explored how health literacy affects adherence to a home-based exercise program. The main findings were: (i) health literacy is closely related to many determinants of concern about falling and greater efforts are needed to clarify the impact of health literacy on intervention adherence and decision-making of older people with concern about falling; (ii) older people with inadequate health literacy are less likely to engage in physical activity on ≥5 days per week than those with adequate health literacy; (iii) the FHLS is sensitive to levels of fall-related health literacy, with good validity in an older population; (iv) the developed IconFES cut-points were sensitive to variables associated with concern about falling and predicted fall incidence and physical activity restriction after one year; (v) online CBT is a feasible treatment method for older people, and a targeted program with a well-integrated psychoeducation module on concern about falling seems warranted to boost the therapeutic effects; (vi) education, history of falls, anxiety and neuroticism moderate the relationship between health literacy and adherence of older people to a home-based exercise program. The thesis findings elucidate key aspects of the relationship between health literacy and concern about falling in older people.
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PhD Doctorate
UNSW Faculty