OBJECTIVES: This study aimed to map the selected indicators of health literacy in the senior population via a qualitative survey that focused specifically on its relationship with autonomy in the context of health literacy among seniors.
METHODS: A qualitative survey focused on the selected indicators of health literacy of seniors living in the South Bohemian Region of the Czech Republic (R1-19). The snowball sampling method was intentionally selected. Completed interviews were transcribed and data was reduced, analyzed, and categorized. The identified categories were 1) information comprehension, 2) decision-making in healthcare, and 3) compliance with nonpharmacologic treatment.
RESULTS: The 'information comprehension' category clearly shows that the seniors involved in this study rated the comprehensibility of information provided by medical professionals as being good. An especially positive finding was that seniors do seek information through the internet, print sources, or other media, even though, as one senior (80-year-old woman) said, comprehension of medical information is becoming "more and more complex". The 'decision-making in healthcare' category touched upon opinions regarding informed consent and opinions regarding seniors' own involvement in healthcare. Results from this category suggest that seniors accept informed consent as a routine necessity. Inhibition regarding personal involvement in healthcare was also apparent: "... I come from a family accustomed to not bothering the doctor unnecessarily, so I just stick out my arm..." The last category of 'compliance with nonpharmacologic treatment' clearly shows that respondents are informed regarding lifestyle modifications that would benefit their treatment, although, few respondents had achieved the desired lifestyle changes.
CONCLUSION: Results of this qualitative research show clear health literacy limits among seniors. As shown in this study, age itself could also be a limiting factor of health literacy.