The communication context of the measurement of health literacy levels
: pilot study in a ruralized elderly population

  • Diogo de Sousa Rebelo Franco (Student)

Student thesis: Master's Thesis


Background: Health literacy (HL) has a crucial role in one’s global health state. The HL concept encompasses the ability in accessing, understanding and using the information to navigate the health system and for health-related decision making. Communication is a transversal concept in the HL operationalization, in the effective transmission, understanding and application of health information. The measurement of HL levels comprises an opportunity to study both dimensions. This study is particularly relevant for individuals over 65 years old, identified as a vulnerable group to low HL levels.Objectives: The primary objective is to assess the behaviour of two commonly used HL measurement tools when applied in a ruralized elderly cohort. The secondary objective is to assess if there are relations between social determinants of health and HL levels.Methods: This research is of quantitative and qualitative nature, being exploratory and descriptive. The sample comprises fifty participants. The used HL measurement tools were the European Health Literacy Survey (HLS-EU-PT) and the Newest Vital Sign (NVS). Aquestionnaire survey was produced to collect data regarding the social determinants ofhealth.Results: A total of 50 valid HLS-EU-PT and 41 NVS surveys were collected, along with 50valid questionnaire surveys. Low HL levels were verified in both tools, with aggravatedLimited HL in the NVS. Possible relations between social determinants of health and HLlevels were identified.Conclusion: Results do not suggest a concordance of results between tools. The NVS may not be a viable tool for samples with a significant proportion of illiterate participants, an obstacle that may be surpassed by using the HLS-EU-PT. Application protocols of HL measurement tools must encompass criteria and methods suited for limitations in this population segment. The identified low HL levels support the identified need for tailoring measures that strengthen HL in the elderly to maintain and improve their life and health quality
Date of Award4 Mar 2021
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Universidade Católica Portuguesa
SupervisorFernando Ilharco (Supervisor) & Henrique Lopes (Co-Supervisor)


  • Communication
  • Health literacy
  • Elderly


  • Mestrado em Ciências da Comunicação

Cite this