Health literacy, health perception and related factors among different ethnic groups: a cross-sectional study in southeastern Turkey

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BMC Health

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Background: Low levels of health literacy are associated with increased hospitalization rates, problems regarding the proper intake of medications, poor general health and increased mortality rates. It is a well-known fact that health literacy differs among ethnic groups and ethnic minorities, in particular, are known to have a low level of health literacy. The present study aimed to reveal the levels of health literacy among different ethnic groups and the affecting factors as well as the relationship between health literacy and health perceptions. Methods: This cross-sectional study was carried out with different ethnic groups (Kurdish, Arab, Turkish and Assyrian origin), between 18 and 65 years old in the province of Mardin in Turkey. The study was conducted with a total of 600 people. The European Health Literacy Scale-Turkish Adaptation (EHLS-TR) and Health Perception Scale (HPS) were used for measurement. Descriptive analysis, Mann Whitney U Test, Kruskal Wallis Test and Spearman correlation were used in the data analysis. Results: It was found that 80.7% of the participants had relatively low levels of health literacy. The lowest levels of health literacy were among those of Kurdish origin. There were correlations between sufficient levels of health literacy and several factors including being of Assyrian origin, being 50–65 years old, living in a nuclear family, being a secondary school graduate, having a high financial status, being retired, evaluating one’s own health status as good, obtaining health information from healthcare professionals, preferring to visit a state hospital to seek medical assistance first, smoking and drinking alcohol. A positive correlation was also identified between the levels of health literacy and health perception. Conclusions: It is essential to develop programs to increase health literacy for the public and, in particular, for the ethnic groups that are disadvantaged in many aspects in the context of health literacy.


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Ethnic group; Health literacy; Health perception; Turkey


BMC Health

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Yiğitalp, G., Bayram Değer, V. & Çifçi, S. Health literacy, health perception and related factors among different ethnic groups: a cross-sectional study in southeastern Turkey. BMC Public Health 21, 1109 (2021).