A qualitative inquiry of old people's health literacy in situations of health uncertainty

Hadas Matas, Jenny Bronstein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Background: This paper examines the health literacy of seniors and the strategies they use to deal with health uncertainty in the context of changes in the health system in Israel that have created a need to examine health literacy in this sector of the population who use the health system the most. The oldest were born and grew up in an era when a physician's knowledge was unchallenged; now, they find it difficult to cope with the expectation of patients taking a role in decision making. Methods: In-depth interviews were carried out with 17 seniors between the ages of 70–87 that focused on their perception of their health and their health literacy. Data were analysed using thematic analysis. Findings: Seniors used different information sources when looking for medical information. Participants reported three coping mechanisms that help them deal with the uncertainty: disregarding the problem, relying on the physician and searching for information. Conclusions: The study found different levels of health literacy among participants but, overall, participants who lead an active and optimistic lifestyle tend to take more responsibility for their health and have higher health information literacy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)319-330
Number of pages12
JournalHealth Information and Libraries Journal
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 Health Libraries Group


  • health information needs
  • information literacy
  • information seeking behaviour
  • older people


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