Introduction: Health literacy refers to the degree to which individuals have the capacity to obtain, process, and understand the basic health information needed to make appropriate health decisions. The aim of this study was to determine the health literacy level in regions on the outskirts of Mashhad, Iran.

Methods: This cross-sectional study was undertaken in December 2014 on residents in the outskirts of Mashhad. We used a multistage sampling method, and data were collected via a questionnaire, conducted by trained interviewers. The data were analyzed using the t-test, the Mann-Whitney test, and the chi-squared test.

Results: We had 502 participants in this study. The mean age was 35.0 ± 11.06 years. Sixty percent of participants (301) were female, and 86.3% (425) had high school diplomas or lower educational levels; the rest had higher educational levels. Television/radio and the Internet were the most and least frequently accessed and used media, respectively. There were significant correlations between the level of knowledge and response to questions in specific domains, such as weight, fasting blood sugar, and blood pressure (p < 0.001). The participants had no difficulty reading booklets (63%), physicians’ prescriptions (59%), medical forms (56%), and guidance boards in hospitals (71%). People had no problems understanding most health/disease materials obtained via various routes (37%), but the health/disease materials published on the Internet/electronic resources (37%) and textbooks (64%) were difficult for them to understand.

Conclusion: Health literacy is a complicated construct, and more comprehensive studies are needed to develop health-related information that can be understood by more of the general public.


Keywords: health literacy, outskirts, health-related information
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