University of Oulu

Huvila I., Hirvonen N., Enwald H., Åhlfeldt RM. (2019) Differences in Health Information Literacy Competencies Among Older Adults, Elderly and Younger Citizens. In: Kurbanoğlu S. et al. (eds) Information Literacy in Everyday Life. ECIL 2018. Communications in Computer and Information Science, vol 989. Springer, Cham

Differences in health information literacy competencies among older adults, elderly and younger citizens

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Author: Huvila, Isto1,2; Hirvonen, Noora2,3; Enwald, Heidi2,3;
Organizations: 1Department of ALM, Uppsala University, Uppsala, Sweden
2Information Studies, Åbo Akademi University, Turku, Finland
3Information Studies, University of Oulu, Oulu, Finland
4University of Skövde, Skövde, Sweden
Format: article
Version: accepted version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 0.2 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Springer Nature, 2019
Publish Date: 2019-04-23


To address the research gap on age-based differences in health information literacy (HIL), we investigated how younger (born 1960–) and older adults (1946–1960), and elderly citizens (–1945) differed from each other by their HIL competencies. Data were collected with an online survey of patients using the Swedish national electronic health record system. Altogether, 2,587 users responded. One-way ANOVA with post hoc tests revealed several differences between the groups: younger adults were less likely to value health information than older adults; older adults and elderly were least likely to compare information from multiple sources and had trouble in determining health information needs; older adults were most likely to have trouble understanding health terminology and the elderly to have difficulties in understanding medicinal package labels. The study shows that HIL is not necessarily improving or declining but adapting to challenges of advanced age.

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Series: Communications in computer and information science
ISSN: 1865-0929
ISSN-E: 1865-0937
ISSN-L: 1865-0929
ISBN: 978-3-030-13472-3
ISBN Print: 978-3-030-13471-6
Volume: 989
Pages: 136 - 143
DOI: 10.1007/978-3-030-13472-3_13
Host publication: Information Literacy in Everyday Life. ECIL 2018
Host publication editor: Kurbanoğlu, Serap
Špiranec, Sonja
Ünal, Yurdagül
Boustany, Joumana
Huotari, Maija Leena
Grassian, Esther
Mizrachi, Diane
Roy, Loriene
Conference: European Conference on Information Literacy
Type of Publication: A4 Article in conference proceedings
Field of Science: 520 Other social sciences
Funding: This study was conducted in collaboration between DOME consortium and the Academy of Finland funded research project Taking Health Information Behaviour into Account (HIBA).
Copyright information: © Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019. This is a post-peer-review, pre-copyedit version of an article published in Communications in Computer and Information Science. The final authenticated version is available online at: