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Web-Savvy Adults Regularly Indulging In Culture May Better Retain 'Health Literacy'

Update Date: Nov 26, 2014 10:02 AM EST

A study assessing the healthy literacy skills of around 4500 adults aged 52 and older found that web-savvy adults, who regularly indulge in culture may better retain health literacy. 

Health literacy is defined as the degree to which a person is able to obtain, understand and process basic health information and services, so that he/she can make appropriate decisions about his/her health.

The study found a link between age and declining health literacy, and being non-white, having relatively low wealth, few educational qualifications, and difficulties carrying out routine activities of daily living.

Across all time points, internet use and engagement in civic, leisure, or cultural activities were lower among those whose health literacy declined, the press release said.

"Internet use and engagement in various social activities, in particular cultural activities, appear to help older adults maintain the literacy skills required to self-manage health," researchers concluded in the paper.

"The results indicate that health literacy skills are fluid over time, that loss of literacy skills during aging is not inevitable, and that technological and social factors should be understood as influences on literacy skills," they added.

The study was published in the British Medical Journal.

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